The findings are in from the annual much-read Corporate Legal Operations Consortium State of the Industry Report – the standard-setting organization for the legal operations profession. Each year, CLOC surveys hundreds of corporate lawyers and attorneys all over the world to keep their finger on the pulse of the industry. Read on for our top takeaways from this year’s report.
The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC), a group of legal experts who sets industry standards and practices for the profession, have published their 2021 CLOC State of the Industry Report survey results. The group sponsors international efforts to exchange ideas and best practices through surveys, metrics, reporting, and forums to address industry challenges and create change. CLOC created this survey in collaboration with the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) as its research consultant.
Survey respondents came from legal teams at more than 200 corporations around the world – specifically from 21 countries and within 22 industries. Three common themes permeated the results this year, but one overwhelmingly common thread wove tightly through the report: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) is top of mind for corporate legal teams.
CLOC sets international industry standards and practices for the legal operations profession.
Legal teams prioritize diversity, equity, & inclusion
Across industries and geographies, DEI is now a strategic imperative for many reasons. The survey shows that the legal industry acknowledges it lags on key DEI performance indicators when compared to similar industries. Implementing a Diversity and Inclusion program was the top-ranked issue for 2021: 6 out of 10 respondents named it as a high priority. (It ranked fifth of out seven in 2020). Legal teams now know that building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive internal environment better reflects the customers and corporations they serve.
Also, corporate legal teams are introducing innovative programs to advance DEI not only in their own organizations, but with their providers as well. Implementing DEI encourages different ways of thinking and promotes policies that open doors of potential greatness for their peers, as well as their providers. Legal teams want to work with others who share their goals.
Bring on the legal automation
A second key theme of the CLOC report was the respondents’ need for automating more legal processes. This trend was a top priority for more than 50% of respondents.
Enterprise legal recognizes the need to “operationalize” activities that can be streamlined through partial automation such as contract review and negotiation. During the pandemic, legal teams were forced to do more remote work with less staff, to meet more regulations and to remain as efficient as possible while doing the seemingly impossible. For a deeper dive into this issue see the Legility Insights white paper, Operationalizing Contract Review and Negotiation.
As part of automation, implementing new technology was also ranked highly by more than half of the CLOC survey respondents. Savvy corporate legal operators understand that strategic tech deployment can save costs over the course of matters.
Enterprise legal recognizes the need to operationalize activities like contract review and negotiation.
New law providers & ALSPs give corporate legal flexibility
In addition to equality and technology, the survey responses show that more human hands are needed. Nearly 25% of respondents indicated that the amount of work sent to alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) increased. With COVID forcing a move to remote work, legal departments are no longer tied to high-cost markets, increasing the shift to flexible, remote resourcing. Creative counsels are looking to accomplish more while maintaining that earned flexibility as the world returns to a post-COVID way of life.
It’s clear to see that more corporations are moving more toward the business side of legal operations – working with ALSPs to solve more problems, more efficiently, and more cost-effectively than ever before.
The 2021 CLOC survey results show that corporate legal teams know how to redefine their industry and set practices that create cohesive, effective and accommodating work environments. It will be interesting to see how much they can accomplish by 2022.
Download the full CLOC State of the Industry Survey Report here.