Key Insights from the Corporate Counsel Summit – Shaping Tomorrow’s Legal Landscape

TransPerfect Legal Solutions


The Corporate Counsel Summit in Sydney, hosted by Lawyers Weekly, brought together more than 300 legal professionals from various industries to discuss the evolving role of in-house lawyers and the emerging challenges they face. Tom Balmer, Director for TLS APAC, joined the summit as a speaker to share the role of legal technology providers in supporting a successful in-house counsel function.

For those who missed out on the summit itself, Tom shares in this post the most important takeaways and learnings across the day’s panels:

In-House Lawyers – Becoming Business Partners:

In today's business landscape, in-house lawyers are expected to go beyond legal expertise and become active contributors to strategic decision-making. We are in an era where internal legal advisors are expected to be more than just a lawyer and must evolve to become part of the business.

Top tips from the panellists on how to do this:

  • Be in the room – be present when strategies are being defined or key decisions are being made.
  • Find a legal champion – a C-suite exec is ideal. Ensure they are also involved in strategy discussions.
  • Risk expertise – develop a deep understanding of the organisation's risk appetite and frame advice accordingly.
  • Avoid lawyer language – learn to speak the language of the business. Brevity is key – stick to a maximum of four bullets in summaries and ensure key messages are at the start of any email communication.
  • Be curious – listen, learn and understand the business. More buy-in will come from asking questions than providing advice.

ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) Imperatives:

The summit highlighted how ESG principles are increasingly critical to corporate practices. With the Australian Securities & Investments Commission’s (ASIC) recent $13,000 greenwashing fine against the retail fund Future Super, and the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) havingannounced its intention to investigate a number of businesses for making misleading environmental claims, there is now a real and clear impetus for corporations to act.

Accordingly, social justice was a central topic of the summit. One panel discussed the anticipated impact of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) in July this year, while another emphasised the need for concrete ESG action, noting the disheartening fact that there are 50M people globally now living in modern slavery – an increase of 25% since 2018. Emily Jackson (Head ofLegal for FIFA Women’s World Cup) stated it was a central focus for FIFA – with the human rights record of AU/NZ being a key reason they were chosen to host the 2023 competition.

Advice for in-house counsel looking to comply with ESG requirements included:

  • Review all current anti-bribery clauses and policies is a great resource to ensure they are up to date and still relevant.
  • Ensure a thorough due diligence process for any new partners/suppliers – ask detailed questions, require hard evidence to be submitted and audit all responses carefully.

Cybersecurity – Maintaining Vigilance:

Unsurprisingly, cybersecurity and privacy were central topics – following several, recent high-profile data breaches affecting millions of Australians (Optus and Medibank , to name two). It’s been five years since the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme was launched, in which mandatory notification of data breaches to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) was implemented.

Many lessons have been learnt in that time, and the advice for legal advisors was simple:

  • Have a strategy – develop a robust internal cyber strategy based on regulatory guidance.
  • Plan ahead – have a response plan in place and test regularly – including red teaming simulation exercises.
  • Ensure effective contract management – do this with third parties and understand your notification clauses (e.g., within 48 hours, within two weeks, etc.) so you’re ready to comply.
  • Information governance – prioritise data cleanup and adopt a "need-to-have" approach to minimise risk.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) – A Powerful Ally for Lawyers:

The impact of AI on the legal profession was a significant focus at the summit. This comes at a fitting time, given a recent Goldman Sachs report estimates that 44% of legal work is now automatable.

However, rather than fearing AI as a threat, Nick Abrahams (Partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, futurist and digital transformation guru) emphasised that lawyers should embrace it as a powerful tool. His advice was simple:

  • Stay informed – AI will keep advancing, and understanding how to leverage it can enhance efficiency and productivity.
  • Automation is the future – identifying automatable legal tasks can free up time for higher-value work.
  • Don’t panic yet – whilst AI is growing quickly, it still has flaws (like fake citations), and other industries have not seen the impact previously lauded by experts (e.g., travel agencies & tour operators grew 20% in the last five years despite the rise of online booking engines like and Skyscanner threatening to make them redundant).

TLS echoes Nick’s points and has been utilising AI across our solutions for many years – investing heavily in licenced and proprietary AI models to streamline the work of our clients (e.g., using TAR tospeed up and improve the quality of document reviews) but making sure the process is responsible and defensible to regulators and courts.

Keynote – Addressing Violence Against Women:

The keynote address by Tarang Chawla (writer, activist and recovering lawyer) was both poignant and resonant. Born in India, Tarang shared his family's beginnings, his journey to becoming a lawyer and how the shocking murder of his little sister Nikita set him on a completely different path in life. He provided insight into how violence against women is a serious and widespread problem in Australia:

  • On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner.
  • It’s also a business problem – costing Australia $21.7 billion each year.
  • A lot has changed since COVID, where WFH arrangements may not be safe for every employee.

But it’s also preventable – he gave some sound and simple advice:

  • Ensure policies are written clearly in everyday language.
  • Ensure these policies are clearly communicated to ensure understanding.
  • Test the reporting and support systems you have in place to ensure they are effective.

Additional information can be found at – a national leader in the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia.


With this being the first in-person conference for many since the pandemic, there was a real sense of joy at the prospect of coming together, sharing insights and networking with industry peers. Valuable insights were shared across the day, with actionable next steps and insightful case studies provided to ensure maximum benefit to all those who attended – along with a combined feeling of ‘we are in this together’ for all those involved.

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