GCs push for a seat at the table

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Seat at the table
Tanya Khan

The Association of Corporate Counsel’s (ACC) 2020 chief legal officers (CLOs) survey revealed that a “seat at the table”, regulatory issues, technology and AI (artificial intelligence) are among the top factors influencing the role of general counsel around the globe.

The largest report of its kind, the CLO survey provides valuable insight from 1,007 CLOs from more than 47 countries.

The survey revealed that 80% of CLOs report directly to the CEO, which is a 16-point increase from 2018, indicating the growing importance of CLOs and giving them a seat at the executive table.

The survey found that 75% of respondents also reported having played a role in strategic decisions, a moderate increase from 2019. The ACC said the strength of these results shows the enhanced position of the CLO within an organisation, and how important it is for business to give the head of legal a seat at the table.

“The 2020 ACC CLO survey further emphasizes that we are in the age of the CLO,” said Tanya Khan, vice president and managing director, ACC Australia and Asia-Pacific. “In the wake of the findings of the Hayne Royal Commission, the challenges facing businesses today are much more complex, and boards are facing greater accountability and pressure to understand their company’s appetite for risk. Therefore, a strategically positioned CLO and legal team can help establish and support a corporate culture that prioritizes ethics, compliance and other legal risk considerations.”

The survey also asked CLOs which issues pose the biggest challenge, and 60% indicated that new regulations, data protection and privacy rules were likely to be the cause for future legal concerns. Similarly, 58% also indicated that expenditure on regulatory compliance increased in the past year, with accommodation and food services, wholesale trade, and finance and banking reporting the highest percentages across all industries.

Legal technology is also on the rise, with more than half of the CLOs planning to adopt new technological solutions, and 69% expecting the use of AI in legal technology applications to accelerate.