The Corporate Legal Operations Global Institute kicks off tomorrow and just in time, Onit released its new Enterprise Legal Reputation Report (compiled by Provoke Insights) to “spotlight opportunities for corporate legal teams to help enterprise organizations improve organizational efficiency and materially impact their businesses.” Or, maybe more simply, to find out what corporations think of their own lawyers.
The verdict is that internal clients don’t seem to trust legal as much as they should.
It’s not all bad news of course. Most respondents view the in-house team as the protectors of the business, which is nice. But when asked if they viewed the corporate legal team as trusted advisors, only 46 percent of the survey’s 4500 respondents said yes. That’s… not great. The figure is 47 percent in the United States and, in France, only 16 percent thought legal made for a “good business partner.” Unsurprisingly, 73 percent of French respondents also said they were likely to bypass legal — which must make for some very excited white-collar prosecutors!
Why are in-house teams viewed with such side eye? Historically, in-house legal teams were branded as “The Department of No,” but in recent years, companies have asked chief legal officers to take on more business responsibilities, seemingly bridging that gap. This study suggests those efforts haven’t warmed relations much.
Three in five (61%) respondents deem Legal as unapproachable, inefficient, bureaucratic, and covered in “red tape.”
And that sense of inefficiency translates to companies seeing legal as an impediment to closing deals quickly. It’s why an investment in legal tech solutions matters for in-house teams. The study notes that AI and other automation tools can improve the speed of the legal department by 25 percent, potentially smoothing over those strained internal relationships.
But closing deals faster isn’t going to make IT any happier. Though I’m inclined to think that’s one instance of low esteem not based on anything the in-house team does so much as the fact that they keep calling the help desk all day because they can’t figure out how to connect to the WiFi.
Again, check out the report here.
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.