2021 Chief Legal Officer Survey Finds Comprehensive Data Management Strategy Crucial to Regulatory Compliance
This week marked the release of the 2021 Chief Legal Officer Survey—one of the legal industry's most comprehensive reports showcasing the opinions of more than 900 General Counsel and Chief Legal Officers. The report was crafted by the Association of Corporate Counsel in partnership with Exterro (also the exclusive ACC Alliance Partner for E-Discovery, Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Compliance).
“The 2021 CLO Survey confirms what we see every day in the organizations with whom we work—that converging market forces in legal operations, privacy, compliance and cybersecurity response are driving an evolution of the role of the CLO," says Exterro CEO Bobby Balachandran. "The successful CLO going forward will have much broader responsibilities and will require a new strategy to proactively and defensibly manage their legal governance, risk and compliance (GRC) obligations while maintaining and ensuring data integrity throughout their business processes."
Among the major findings were the growth of comprehensive data management strategies across enterprises everywhere, spearheaded by Legal. This was highlighted throughout the report, along with the general theme of growing importance of the GC/CLO position in ensuring business functions go smoothly. The CLO is a key business partner to the c-suite and board. CLOs regularly participate in board meetings, are often asked to provide input on business decisions by leadership teams on operational and risk areas. They only spend 28 percent of their time on strictly legal work.
Additional findings include:
- Many legal departments plan to hire new staff, despite the pandemic – in fact, law departments plan to hire two percent more lawyers in 2021 than in 2020. Twenty percent of departments plan on adding paralegals and 12.7 percent expect to hire additional legal ops professionals.
- Legal operations is now imperative. Sixty-one percent of legal departments have at least one legal operations professional on staff, the highest percentage observed since ACC began tracking this metric. Thirty-eight percent of CLOs say their department’s most important strategic initiative involves legal operations.
- Data privacy continues to impact organizations, with 80 percent expressing concern over changing data privacy laws in the jurisdictions where they do business. Ninety percent expect data privacy concerns to accelerate.
- ESG and D&I are central to strategy, impacting third-party relationships, supply chain standards, and investor and stakeholder relationships. Many CLOs are taking new measurable actions, internally and externally, to build equity and inclusion practices into staffing and operations.
Download the full report by clicking the banner below!