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.