FTI Consulting and Relativity Release General Counsel Survey and Report
Global News

FTI logoFTI Consulting, Inc. today announced findings from its Technology segment’s study of corporate legal departments, in partnership with Relativity.

Based on a detailed survey and one-on-one interviews by Ari Kaplan with chief legal officers at corporations of all sizes, The General Counsel Report: Corporate Legal Departments in 2020, outlines changes in the general counsel’s role over the past decade, how and why in-house legal teams are implementing advanced technology for legal use cases, key areas the general counsel identified for enterprise risk, and their advice for the next generation of lawyers.

The study indicated an industry in transition, with key findings including:

  • Pervasive enterprise risk is driving general counsel toward expanded roles as business strategists, according to 97 percent of respondents.
  • 40 percent of respondents said they currently use or soon plan to use AI to fulfill legal tasks, such as managing and reviewing business contracts.
  • 75 percent of respondents use SaaS or cloud-based applications to perform legal tasks.
  • 38 percent of general counsel believe legal work will be more technology-driven in the future.
  • 69 percent of general counsel modified their companies’ data privacy policies to adhere to the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”).

“The study illustrates how today’s general counsel are on the front lines, helping their companies navigate a myriad of complex challenges and leveraging advanced technology to do it,” said Sophie Ross, Global Chief Executive Officer of FTI Technology. “We collaborated with our partner, Relativity, to develop this study because we are often the general counsel’s trusted advisors to address these challenging matters. We hope that this study brings to light key trends within corporate legal teams and helps general counsel enhance their benchmarking, planning and performance.” 

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Risk, privacy, security and technology innovation were widely discussed in survey interviews. Many participants acknowledged the increasing pervasiveness of enterprise risk, citing difficulties with complying with the patchwork of regulations on data privacy and security. Some expanded on the issue, claiming that many lawyers still lack understanding of complex data privacy requirements. In parallel, reputational risk caused by an increasingly vocal public emerged as a new area of concern. 

“The legal industry is at a crossroads, and counsel must now contend with growing responsibilities, expectations and external threats,” said David Horrigan, discovery counsel and legal content director at Relativity. “This study demonstrates that general counsel are ready to embrace their new role, but room for improvement still exists in understanding emerging risks, adopting technology and expanding legal education. Successful legal teams of the future will need a combination of business experience and technology aptitude in order to maintain a valued seat at the table among executive leadership.”

Download The General Counsel Report: Corporate Legal Departments in 2020 here. Sophie Ross of FTI Technology, David Horrigan of Relativity and Ari Kaplan will discuss the report findings during “The Business of Law 2020” Relativity Fest session on Monday, October 21st at 11 a.m. In addition, FTI Technology and Relativity will share the results of the study on a November 20th webcast with Corporate Counsel Business Journal.


Demographics and methodology

Between March 22, 2019 and June 18, 2019, Ari Kaplan personally interviewed 32 general counsel to discuss the evolution of their roles, the changing nature of legal practice, emerging legal risks to modern businesses, and advice for outside counsel and incoming law students to help them thrive in this new era. Forty-one percent of the respondents were with companies that earned more than $500 million in revenue and 53 percent worked in organizations with more than 1,000 employees. They served in various industries, including technology and telecommunications; banking, insurance or financial services; manufacturing; energy and utilities; higher education; life sciences; retail; and transportation.


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