Business worries this year like cybersecurity boost CLOs’ hand. But do they want that?

The retrospective season is over, and now, inevitably, it’s time to worry about what 2020 holds for us, both top company lawyers and regular people. And the Association of Corporate Counsel tells is that, at least for chief legal officers, compliance, data privacy, and cybersecurity remain critical challenges to business. And these challenges strengthening the influence of CLOs, both as legal experts and as business strategists. These findings are according to the 2020 ACC CLO Survey, a survey fueled with data from 1,007 general counsel and CLOs across 20 industries and 47 countries.

 The report illustrates the development of the “age of the CLO,” with 80.2 percent of top in-house lawyers reporting to their CEO.  This confirms a multiyear upward trend, 15.8 points over 2018. Nearly 73 percent of CLOs report that they are “almost always” engaged by the executive leadership team on business decisions.  Another consistent trend is the growth of the legal operations function. The 2020 Survey found that 53.8 percent of in-house law departments employ at least one legal operations professional. Ten percent of respondents intend to expand their legal operations team in 2020.

 “The CLO’s position as a major business strategist is universally accepted,” said Veta T. Richardson, president and CEO of ACC. “Three quarters of C-suites consistently look to their CLO on matters of risk and strategy, and with compliance and technology issues becoming increasingly complex, we expect to see that number continue to rise. The CLO role has evolved into a multifaceted legal and business leadership position, essential to operations around the world.”

 Other notable findings in the 2020 ACC CLO Survey:

  • A majority of CLOs expect to maintain or  expand last year’s levels of outsourcing to law firms and alternate legal service providers.*
  • A majority of CLOs (60 percent) currently view data protection threats as the most pressing danger for their company.*
  • “Redesign workflow processes” (57.6 percent) and “greater use of legal technology solutions” (49.7 percent) were the top initiatives used to increase law department’s efficiency in delivering legal services.

 You can download the entire survey here