RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Accenture’s legal risk study finds General Counsel leaders having to balance more demands with fewer resources.
  • One solution—which lets General Counsel strengthen its role as business partner—is to adopt a Future Law operating model.
  • Transforming to Future Law is an evolutionary change, with specific steps to mark the journey.


For General Counsels and the legal departments of financial firms, they face important challenges and an expanded role. Today’s General Counsels are compelled to provide the strategic leadership and vision to transform their departments and bring them in step with the transformation efforts undertaken by their business clients. The time for Future Law might be now.

Accenture’s 2019 Legal Risk Study, surveyed 50 General Counsel professionals from North American financial firms for their insights into where their function is headed. Our study, Future Law … Balancing More with Less, finds General Counsels becoming trusted partners to the enterprise—managing business, technology, regulatory and legal needs. But filling all these roles means doing more with less resources, as budgets are fixed or declining and demands are expanding.

Operating at the intersection of business, legal, technology and regulation, the Office of the General Counsel’s role has expanded from an ethical sounding board to a trusted business partner.

With their increased stature and increased scope, the challenges facing General Counsels today include:

  • Guiding the function itself, sustaining its core legal competence while keeping pace with transformation
  • Cultivating a nimble staff of lawyers and paralegals, and supporting them with efficient workflow
  • Identifying core versus non-core work, and outsourcing non-core activities to skilled but less costly resources
  • Investing in the right technology to boost productivity

Can a Future Law approach help General Counsels maintain their seat at the table?

Future law…balancing more with less

Build a legal risk function of the future—today

A Future Law approach helps General Counsels better support the business by shifting non-core functions to third-party providers, employing new organizational structures and processes, helping build a better technology infrastructure, and adopting a culture of continual change.

The transition need not instantly uproot existing legal functions. Moving toward Future Law can be evolutionary— General Counsels can begin their journey by building a multi-year transformation program. A critical first step is cultivating an openness to change. Many businesses already have a head start: Three in four (76 percent) of Legal Risk Study respondents say their employees are receptive to new legal technology solutions.

What are the other steps to a Future Law transformation?

1. Evaluate the change—and self-evaluate.

A candid self-assessment that recognizes the organization’s blind spots, plus its idiosyncratic strengths and weaknesses, is essential for evaluating options to strengthen the legal function.

2. Find opportunities to gain efficiencies.

Our Legal Risk Study found half of in-house attorneys spend up to 20 percent of time on tasks not needing an attorney. Managed legal services, automated technology plus productivity enhancements can help.

3. Shift to strategic use of LegalTech.

Finding the right LegalTech is a challenge cited by 62 percent of study respondents. By mapping existing technologies and verifying they are fit for purpose, a new LegalTech strategy may emerge.

4. Reskill the legal department.

Law schools don’t teach tech strategy or business operations. Hiring technologists, project managers and legal operations managers can help fill the void.

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Conclusion

General Counsel can fill its expanded role and keep pace with accelerated business demand if General Counsel leaders are willing to apply fresh thinking and new approaches. By moving towards a Future Law operating model, General Counsels should be able to balance more responsibilities and demands using fewer resources.

Ready to begin your journey to Future Law? Download our report today.

Samantha Regan

Managing Director - Finance & Risk, Global Regulatory Remediation and Compliance Transformation Lead


Lisa Bloomberg

Principal Director – Accenture Finance & Risk


Garrett Swanberg

Manager – Accenture Finance & Risk

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