2015 challenges facing in-house legal teams

2015 challenges facing in-house legal teams

Looking towards 2015 - the challenges facing General Counsel

We have asked in-house lawyers to give their advice on how in-house legal teams can ensure they are being effective in assisting their business.

What are the challenges facing General Counsel in the coming year?

Katy Fixter, market development director at LexisNexis

2014 was another interesting year for in-house legal teams, which are continuing to grow in the face of:

o           increased volume of work as the economy recovers

o           cost pressures meaning that the relative cost of internal vs external resources supports recruitment

o           the increasing volume and complexity of regulation, meaning that compliance is a real headache for many

This is only going to ramp up over the coming years.

In response to this, we are seeing many in-house legal teams transforming the way they are doing business. There is a real focus on efficiency and more teams are using metrics to demonstrate a return on investment to the business, looking at process re-engineering, business 'self-serve' initiatives and traction in the adoption of technology to enable teams to work smarter.

It is also apparent that in-house teams are pushing their panel firms to work more efficiently. External advisors are also having to become more sophisticated as in-house teams drive ever harder bargains on fees, and all in the face of alternative models to outsource legal process in different ways.

Finally, as many of our panel below have noted, legal and regulatory compliance is a crucial element of the role and requirements have become more burdensome year-on-year, something which will continue to be high on the agenda in 2015 and beyond.

Ian McDougall, executive vice president and General Counsel at LexisNexis Legal & Professional

I think the greatest challenge a General Counsel has to face today is managing legal issues in an ever-increasing regulatory environment while at the same time trying to retain control of costs. It's a strange kind of perfect storm that we live in where the very regulatory environment, which makes doing business more costly, causes costs pressures on the legal department's budget who are charged with helping the business be compliant with those very regulations--so a kind of vicious circle.

I think that legal departments continue to evolve all the time as the business does, but I think that one of the most important ways that we will evolve over the next five years is to play a role in education; an increasingly important role. Raising awareness of the legal environmen

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About the author:
Helen Hart studied in Cardiff and Germany and qualified as a solicitor in 1998 after a training contract at Allen & Overy in London and Frankfurt. She spent over six years working in-house at Centrica plc and Palm Europe Limited focusing mainly on consumer, advertising and data protection law before returning to private practice at Stevens & Bolton where she was an associate in the corporate and commercial team. She worked for a legal publisher between 2008 and 2012 and has also worked in local government library services. Her main areas of expertise are general commercial law, advertising law and consumer law.