Corporate general counsels (GCs) are increasingly seeking multi-disciplinary legal services providers to help them better meet the needs of the companies they serve. Two reports by Deloitte and Corporate Counsel magazine have identified key trends shaping the buying behaviors of corporate GC. Here’s a snapshot of what those reports detail and importantly, what they mean for the legal services sector:
Efficiency a key driver for a changing role of the GC role
As Corporate Counsel detailed, there is a drive to make the role of the general counsel more efficient as companies face financial pressures and resources have become more limited – the often used ‘more for less’ mantra. This also places pressure on the general counsel to make more strategic buying decisions. As a result, there has been growing recognition by GCs to utilise legal operations and process improvement advisors and consultants to help them achieve that efficiency. Law firms or BigLaw have also sought to adjust to this new buying environment by adopting pricing strategies to more effectively meet the needs of corporate GCs – to meet the needs and demand of their internal client.
GC see much value in multi-disciplinary solutions providers
The importance of technology cannot be underestimated as a component of change in the legal services industry. Legal operations professionals are now helping the GC do more with less, save time, maximize resources, balance work and leisure — all which help to increases morale and productivity. Taken together these initiatives also help the corporate general counsel better demonstrate the value they provide to the companies they serve. The GC who ignores driving value for their internal clients, are doing a disservice to their client as advisor and business partner.
As a recent study about the global legal services market by Deloitte identifies – in-house teams are now “looking for tech savvy, integrated services providers who offer more than traditional legal advice”. Deloitte sees the legal market expanding in areas including regulatory compliance, M&A and litigation — while at the same time there’s a greater willingness by the GC to purchase legal services from a range of professional services providers.
In particular, as the study outlined: “Conventional law firms are no longer meeting today’s business needs. The majority (55%) of participants in the study (legal counsel, GC – or CEOs and CFOs) have taken or are considering a significant review of their legal suppliers.” The study also noted that a majority of in-house counsel expect technology to replace some of their tasks in the future. Hence, GC say they’d like to have more relevant technologies for use on shared or integrated platforms.
One-third of in-house counsel, as Deloitte details, “want legal services providers to “bring industry, commercial and non-legal expertise, which currently they do not. They also want law firms to be more savvy on global data and cyber security protection issues and more proactive in sharing knowledge across many jurisdictions. Traditional law firms are seen to be trailing other professional services firms in this area.”
And vitally, as the report concluded: “52% of in-house legal departments are considering buying legal services from non-traditional law firms.”
A dynamic legal market rewarding entrepreneurial solutions providers
The legal market is in a state of significant flux. The GC’s role is changing – and their needs from external advisors diversifying and deepening. That’s why we see an increasing role to play by a nimble, entrepreneurial outside legal sector seeking to serve the GC as effectively as possible. No longer a one-size-fits-all market – instead a variety of business models, pricing, talent and technology options appear to be the ascendant means by which to most effectively help the general counsel drive their companies to thrive and prosper.
Titus is the founder of KorumLegal. He has a keen interest in technology and innovation.