Legal function leaders must put change on the agenda
Responses also pointed to the fact that management itself may lack the necessary skills to drive innovation – this could be either technological knowledge or change management abilities, for instance. Similarly, a lack of “interest” may point to decision-makers having competing priorities.
Failure to take advantage of innovative technology could make the legal function a weak link in the operational chain. Those businesses that change their operating model to capitalize on technological advances may well find operational efficiencies as well as cost reductions. More efficient organizations will be best placed to steal a competitive advantage, whether that’s speed to market with new services or faster adaptation to new regulation. As businesses become fitter and faster in the digital era, the more they need their legal function to keep up the pace.
Although simple, short-term cost-cutting measures such as reducing headcount or adopting technology seem to be common ideas, our experience shows that unless you unlock process and workflow, you will end up with the same problems in your legal function down the line.
3. Confidence around the regulatory environment
The legislative and regulatory landscape has provided considerable challenges in recent years and the pace of regulatory change shows no sign of slowing.
In spite of some prevailing uncertainty, legal functions report being largely confident about having a readiness plan to comply with future regulatory challenges, including new privacy and disposition rules, third-party data requests and regulatory events, such as US tax reform and BEPS.
Confidence about readiness is lowest for Brexit planning – which is arguably unsurprising as, at the time the survey was conducted, this was the one area about which there was the greatest lack of certainty.