Europe’s General Counsels (GCs) are adapting their roles and becoming more strategic, with the largest organizations leading the way by embracing technological solutions to achieve their business goals. That’s according to the General Counsel Barometer 2017, released to the media today by Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions, the global market leader in transformational, technology-based solutions for legal management. And adoption of technology is most prevalent in the finance and banking sector (68%), according to the survey results - arguably due to stringent regulation in the sector.
The General Counsel Barometer 2017, published in association with Raconteur, is “designed to test the hypothesis that the challenges and priorities of European General Counsel are still evolving and to examine to what extent some companies are better equipped than others to adapt to that change”, Wolters Kluwer says.
There is evidence of a gulf between the survey’s largest and smallest companies’ adoption of technology to manage contracts, matter management, e-billing and compliance - with the larger organizations, including financial services firms, using technology as an enabler to manage manual processes so they can concentrate on strategic work. Impressively, 77% of lawyers working in companies with an annual turnover in excess of $25 billion say they used “legal-specific technology capable of addressing multiple areas of legal process and integrating with other technology applications throughout the business.” This falls as company size decreases (30% among the companies in the $5-$25 billion segment) and for companies in the less than $5 billion bracket, only 4% employ such technology.
“By using data and reports from technology, legal departments can scorecard and benchmark their firms, and have informed conversations that improve collaboration and ensure value for money. The largest companies are already doing this,” Wolters Kluwer experts notes.
And this is backed up by Maurus Schreyvogel, head of Operational Excellence and Strategic Assistant to group General Counsel at Swiss-based Novartis International AG, who provided his views in the barometer write up. “We used to adhere to a kind of professional code…if a company told us a task had taken them a certain number of hours we would just accept it…. Now, though, we look from a value perspective and we won’t hesitate to challenge external counsel on fees,” he notes.
The survey sought responses from organizations divided into three groups according to annual turnover. These were as follows: less than $5 billion (30%), $5-$25 billion (35%) and in excess of $25 billion (35%). In terms of location, the companies were headquartered in a range of European nations, with the majority in the U.K. and France (30% each), and a sizeable proportion in Switzerland (16%) and Germany (14%). Others included Belgium, the Netherlands and the Nordic countries. Regarding industry sector, the companies were split equally, with 20% each from finance and banking, pharma and chemicals, telecoms, energy and utilities, and commodities and mining. The organizations tended to have sizeable legal departments, with the majority (36%) featuring a headcount of more than 150 and a further 25% numbering between 100-150 people.
Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions business claims to ““leverage a deep understanding of customer needs to transform the Enterprise Legal Management experience and help corporate legal departments and insurance claims organizations make better business decisions.” Financial services firms amongst its client base include Aon, AXA, Wells Fargo and Marsh & McLennan Companies.
Earlier this year ELM Solutions launched Passport® Pro, a pre-configured version of its Passport® ELM (Enterprise Legal Management) platform. Corporate legal departments “with less complex legal workflow requirements, limited internal IT capabilities, and legal departments of less than 100 users” are best suited to use the solution, the company notes.
Wolters Kluwer Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC) is a division of Wolters Kluwer which provides legal, finance, risk and compliance professionals and small business owners with a broad spectrum of solutions, services and expertise needed to help manage myriad governance, risk and compliance needs in dynamic markets and regulatory environments. The division’s prominent brands include: AuthenticWeb™, Bankers Systems®, BizFilings®, Capital Changes, CASH Suite™, CT Corporation, CT Lien Solutions, ComplianceOne®, Corsearch, Expere®, GainsKeeper®, LegalVIEW®, OneSumX®, Passport®, TyMetrix® 360, Uniform Forms™, VMP® Mortgage Solutions and Wiz®.
Wolters Kluwer N.V. (AEX: WKL) is a global leader in information services and solutions for professionals in the health, tax and accounting, risk and compliance, finance and legal sectors. Wolters Kluwer reported 2015 annual revenues of €4.2 billion. The company, headquartered in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands, serves customers in over 180 countries, maintains operations in over 40 countries and employs 19,000 people worldwide.