Association of Corporate Counsel and Major, Lindsey & Africa release legal benchmarking survey

Privacy was ranked the most common business function directly overseen by legal departments

Association of Corporate Counsel and Major, Lindsey & Africa release legal benchmarking survey

The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) and Major, Lindsey & Africa (MLA) have jointly released their fourth annual legal benchmarking survey, covering law departments' financial and operational performance metrics.

The survey indicates a significant rise in total legal spending across all companies, from $2.4 million the previous year to $3.1 million this year. The survey shows that companies with over $20 billion in revenue drive the most significant increases. The survey's executive summary provides an overview of legal department staffing, structure, work allocation, law firm and alternative legal service providers' usage, spending patterns, and diversity metrics.

ACC president and CEO Veta Richardson stressed that the ACC/MLA Law Department Management Benchmarking Report provides critical data enabling law departments to adapt and enhance their operational efficiency. "To adapt to today's rapidly changing business and legal environment, this report delivers law department leaders with specific, actionable information to identify and implement improvements in every area of the legal department, including work allocation, internal vs. external spend, and so much more." 

Barret Avigdor, executive director of in-house counsel recruiting and advisory services with Major, Lindsey & Africa, highlighted the growing significance and responsibility shouldered by legal departments within organizations. "This report further illustrates this sentiment and speaks to the increased scope of issues that legal departments are tasked with managing, including compliance, risk, and privacy."

The survey revealed that privacy was ranked the most common business function directly overseen by the legal department at 57 percent of respondents, overtaking compliance traditionally topped the list. An additional 19 percent of departments reported that compliance is a separate department that reports to legal. Consequently, 77 percent of legal departments said that the chief legal officer oversees compliance compared to 70 percent that has oversight over privacy.

Despite the legal profession's increased focus on diversity, the survey indicated little change in diversity metrics within legal departments. Approximately three in 10 legal departments reported that they track internal diversity metrics related to their composition, and 21 percent report tracking diversity metrics concerning their outside counsel.

The ACC and MLA offer custom benchmarking reports using the data from this survey to provide organizations with a true comparison to their peer group based on six criteria. MLA's Advisory Services consultants offer customized solutions in organizational and operational design and strategic learning development. Companies can also obtain guidance through the ACC partnership with Smarter Law to highlight specific areas and actions legal departments can take to help reduce costs and improve efficiency.

The report is based on findings from 499 legal departments in organizations spanning 24 industries, 20 countries, and all company sizes.

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