In-Depth Study Highlights The Key Challenges Over Next Five Years
According to new research by Irwin Mitchell, the majority of in-house legal teams only feel “fit for purpose” for the next five years in two out of sixteen areas surveyed.
The in-depth report by the national law firm is based on field work carried out by The Thriving Company on the firm’s behalf, who surveyed the opinion of 113 in-house lawyers.
The report examines what in-house legal teams perceive to be the main trends in the future and highlights the areas that should be focussed on in order to be fully prepared for 2025.
Of sixteen areas surveyed, the only areas where the majority of participants felt ready were their legal team’s values (64%) and their team’s level of empowerment and autonomy (51%).
In-house teams felt least ready in relation to the use of technology in the legal team (4%), processes within the legal team (6%), team structure (13%), KPIs (13%), succession planning (15%) and skill set (16%).
When asked which areas their in-house legal team most needed to improve in order to meet the challenges of 2025, respondents again highlighted technology, process and succession planning as the areas of significant concern.
Outside of the legal team itself eighty percent of in-house lawyers said that:
- The economy will have a major impact on their organisation in the next five years. The legal teams that responded said they were mainly concerned about how economic uncertainty might affect the type of work their teams are doing, and the mix of skill sets required within their team.
- Technology such as automation, big data, and artificial intelligence will be hugely influential on their organisations between now and 2025. Again, legal teams were most interested in the impact this would have on the skill sets required within the in-house legal team.
Commenting on the report, Stuart Padgham, partner and Head of Commercial at Irwin Mitchell, said:
Expert Opinion“We commissioned this research to help us get a better understanding of both the challenges facing in-house teams and the methods that they are using to tackle them.
“This report highlights that the difference in the challenges faced by teams are considerable. However, the common theme is that there is an expectation that technology will solve many of the problems created by an ever more complex working environment, but of equal importance is the need to develop the business skills and operating model of in-house teams so that they can deliver the services that their businesses require.”
Stuart Padgham - Partner
Other topics covered in the report include a look at the skills that in-house lawyers think are most important in achieving their visions, which of these skills they themselves need to improve most and which they think their in-house team in general need to improve.
Here, understanding of the business or wider sector was chosen by 76% as one of top three most important. Stakeholder management was chosen by almost half (49%) as one of the top three most important, whilst ‘influencing’ was chosen by 42% as one of top three most important attributes.
Based on the interviews and analysis by Irwin Mitchell, the report also provides a detailed explanation of what in-house teams should be doing practically to prepare for the changes that will take place between now and 2025.
Irwin Mitchell commissioned The Thriving Company to carry out the fieldwork underlying this survey. The Thriving Company is focused entirely on gaining insights from users of professional and financial services.
The Thriving Company carried out two phases of research:The first phase consisted of a series of 33 in-depth interviews with GCs, heads of in-house legal, and other senior in-house legal staff. These interviews lasted, on average, 45 minutes and provided significant insights about expectations of the future, and the key challenges faced. Importantly, they also provided ideas and success stories about how leaders and in-house teams are working to overcome challenges and get ready for the future.
The second phase was an online survey. Eighty people participated in this, adding to our understanding about the overall significance of various issues. The study and conclusions are therefore based on feedback from 113 people in total.