You’re using tech more, especially AI, and “pervasive” risk makes your job more important

Legal departments, and their top lawyers, have become more and more important to their companies. And to cope with all the work they have to do, in-house lawyers are increasingly turning to sophisticated technology.

Those are the conclusions in a new survey of in-house legal department by FTI Consulting, Inc. The consultancy announced findings from its Technology segment’s study of corporate legal departments, which they did partnering with Relativity. Based on a detailed survey and one-on-one interviews by Ari Kaplan with chief legal officers, The General Counsel Report: Corporate Legal Departments in 2020, illuminates changes in the general counsel’s role over the past decade, how and why in-house legal teams are deploying advanced technology for legal use cases, and the areas that GCs find are risk targets..

Some key takeaways:

  • Pervasive enterprise risk is driving chief in-house counsel toward bigger roles as business strategists, according to 97 percent of respondents.
  • 40 percent said they currently use or soon plan to use artificial intelligence to perform legal tasks, such as managing and reviewing business contracts.
  • 75 percent of respondents use SaaS or cloud-based applications to perform legal tasks.
  • 69 percent of general counsel modified their companies’ data privacy policies to adhere to the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”).

“The study illustrates how today’s general counsel are on the front lines, helping their companies navigate a myriad of complex challenges and leveraging advanced technology to do it,” said Sophie Ross, FIT’s global CEO.

FTI says that risk, privacy, security and technology innovation were widely discussed in the interviews. Many participants cited difficulties with complying with the patchwork of regulations on data privacy and security. Some expanded on the issue, claiming that many lawyers still don’t understand data privacy requirements. And an increasingly vocal public has become a new worry for them.

“The legal industry is at a crossroads, and counsel must now contend with growing responsibilities, expectations and external threats,” said David Horrigan, discovery counsel and legal content director at Relativity. “This study demonstrates that general counsel are ready to embrace their new role, but room for improvement still exists in understanding emerging risks, adopting technology and expanding legal education.

You can download the report here.

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