General counsel have always acted as the protectors of their organizations, providing legal advice to ensure that their company is acting in accordance with the law. However, today’s volatile and global regulatory environments – and how to comply with the new regulations that govern data and information privacy – have expanded the typical responsibilities of a general counsel. Ever persisting budget constraints present an even more problematic landscape for general counsel to navigate.
The Modern General Counsel
Successful general counsel have adapted to meet new demands placed on them, and can take on many roles including:
- Legal advisor
- Strategic business partner
- Risk and crisis manager
- Business analyst
- Budget keeper
A general counsel must also be a generalist, with instincts to recognize issues in more specialized areas of legal such as intellectual property or accounting, even if they are not experts in these domains. Proper management of all of these responsibilities lead to a general counsel that has a full understanding of the business, and has control over their department spend, budget, and staffing.
Informing Decisions at the Executive Level
Today’s corporate legal departments are expected to be high performing and successful, much like the other business units within the organization. General counsel, often with legal operations professionals by their side, are tackling this challenge head on.
Widespread availability of legal technology, such as legal operations platforms, have made key legal metrics accessible to general counsel and their departments, including:
- Overall spend by practice area and business unit
- Monthly spend by matter and vendor
- Average hourly timekeeper rate
- Discounts on outside counsel rate
Armed with these KPIs, general counsel can conduct the proper analysis to evaluate departmental performance and support core legal department functions. These metrics can further be connected to broader corporate initiatives and inform decisions at the executive level. If you’re not sure what data your legal department should be analyzing or want a benchmark for industry best practices, download a copy of our latest white paper, 9 Essential Reports Every GC needs.
What Does the Future Have in Store for Corporate Legal?
With access to the right data points and dashboards, we can expect corporate legal departments to emerge as one of the most efficient and effective business units within the organization. Add the fact that general counsel and legal ops professionals are starting to digress from their roles’ traditional responsibilities, and the modern legal department has more power than ever before to significantly shape the future of the organizations they serve.