Norton Rose’s litigation survey: In-house counsel fret about a downfall, see more litigation because of it

The law firm Norton Rose Fulbright conducts a survey of in-house counsel each year about litigation. And while the usual worries about cybersecurity are up front, there’s an additional wrinkle. This year’s respondents are worried about an economic upturn and, as a consequence, a rise in disputes. They aalso say they’re preparing for the onslaught, especially when it comes to labor litigation, but they aren’t sure how effective they will be.

Some specific findings:

  • The most commonly feared disputes lie in the areas of Labor and Contracts. These core areas are likely to be further affected if the economy experiences a downturn.
  • Cybersecurity remains top of mind as an increasing risk exposure. But’s not yet realized as a most common or concerning dispute
  • Regulatory pressures continue to get more intense.
  • Companies are caught between the need to balance data protection regulations in one jurisdiction with discovery obligations in another.

How are legal departments preparing for bad times? It depends. Senior leaders are reading the tea leaves, but Norton Rose says in the report that some of the most effective preventative measures—specifically embedding lawyers within business operations and early case evaluation/resolution—”have yet to gain real traction and present a real opportunity for proactive legal departments seeking to mitigate risk.”

We’ll leave you with a couple of stats. Seventeen percent of the respondents expect to hire more lawyers, and 66 percent are using alternative fee arrangements with their law firms. Thirty-five percent expect the volume of litigation to increase, and more than 50 percent feel more exposed to cybersecurity and data protection issues.

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