June 19, 2019 — The corporate legal operations role in Europe has seen tremendous growth over the past two years, and General Counsel (GCs) rely more on technology for productivity gains as they focus on strategic business goals. That’s according to the General Counsel Barometer 2019, released by Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions, the market-leading provider of enterprise legal spend and matter management, contract lifecycle management, and legal analytics solutions.

The General Counsel Barometer 2019, published with The Lawyer, shows that GCs are expected to play a more strategic role in their organizations, a trend that has increased since it was reported in the General Counsel Barometer 2017. The study explores how the role of a GC has changed to adapt to the evolving complexities of the legal and economic environment while embracing new technologies that offer enhanced capabilities, analytics and opportunities for significant cost management. Highlights include the following: 

  • Legal Operations: 35% of companies said that they have at least one legal operations professional, compared to 4% in 2017. 73% of companies with over 150 legal professionals now have a dedicated legal operations professional.
  • Strategic Focus: 78% of respondents stated that their role has become increasingly strategic, a significant rise from 38% in 2017. As company size increases, the law department is more likely to have a strategic focus over a functional one.
  • Adding Value: 48% of respondents reported that the top priority for their legal department over the next 12 months is adding value to the business and becoming a more strategic business partner. While in 2017, improving internal efficiency was seen as the top priority for general counsel.
  • Technology Investment: 72% of respondents expect to see investments in technology increase over the next 12 months. According to 70% of respondents, the main reason for investing in technology is to increase the productivity of the legal team. When asked what areas of technology were expected to deliver efficiency gains to lawyers, 64% said contract lifecycle management.
  • Shifting Resources: The survey revealed corporations have moved less specialized work from law firms to in-house counsel. 42% of respondents said they conduct 61-80% of work in-house, a 27% increase since 2017. Specialized work is still often outsourced to traditional law firms - 73% of respondents send highly technical work like patent services and due diligence to an outside provider.

“This year’s survey demonstrates that as GCs in Europe are expected to play increasingly strategic roles within their businesses, legal operations professionals have emerged and are demanding technology that drives efficiency,” says Barry Ader, Vice President of Marketing and Product Management for Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions. “According to the survey, GCs will seek technology solutions that help reduce the cost of legal operations and increase efficiency within the organization. This will allow them to not only dedicate time toward strategic business initiatives but also arm them with key business intelligence through enhanced reporting and analytics.”

Enabling the legal department to think strategically, as opposed to reactively, can impact the entire business. According to respondents, GCs insist on being involved in transaction and other business decisions early on so their strategic advice can have an impact on the bottom-line. 

Legal technology has enabled GCs to focus on strategic issues, which is critical given the trading and political challenges in today’s global economy. One major technological development is the use of AI for legal operations to automate routine tasks. “We leverage technology to engage and manage outside counsel and legal service providers,” said Maurus Schreyvogel, Chief Legal Innovation Officer at Swiss-based Novartis International AG.

Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions is the market-leading global provider of enterprise legal spend and matter management, contract lifecycle management and legal analytics solutions. We provide a comprehensive suite of tools that address the growing needs of corporate legal operations departments to increase operational efficiency and reduce costs. Corporate legal and insurance claims departments trust our innovative technology and end-to-end customer experience to drive world-class business outcomes. Our award-winning products include Passport®, the highest rated ELM solution in the latest Hyperion MarketView Legal Market Intelligence Report; TyMetrix® 360°, the industry’s leading SaaS-based e-billing and matter management solution; CLM Matrix,  named a “strong performer” in the 2019 Q1 CLM Forrester Wave report; and the LegalVIEW® portfolio of legal analytics solutions based upon the industry’s largest and most comprehensive legal spend database, with more than $128 billion in invoices.


About Wolters Kluwer Governance, Risk & Compliance

Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC) is a division of Wolters Kluwer, which provides legal and banking professionals with solutions to ensure compliance with ever-changing regulatory and legal obligations, manage risk, increase efficiency, and produce better business outcomes. GRC offers a portfolio of technology-enabled expert services and solutions focused on legal entity compliance, legal operations management, banking product compliance, and banking regulatory compliance. 

Wolters Kluwer (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 2018 annual revenues of €4.3 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. 


Notes to Editors:

The survey sought responses from organizations divided into three groups according to annual turnover. These were as follows: less than $5 billion (35%), $5-$25 billion (41%) and in excess of $25 billion (23%). In terms of location, the companies were headquartered in a range of European nations, with the majority in the U.K., and a sizeable proportion in the Nordics, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and Italy. 

Regarding industry sector, 28% of respondents came from banking, financial institutions and insurance, 15% from telecommunications, and 11% each from energy and utilities. The organizations tended to have mid- to large-sized legal departments, with the majority (30%) featuring a headcount of more than 150 and a further 22% numbering between 25-100 people.



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Erica Glass

Director, Global Corporate Communications – Legal Solutions

Governance, Risk & Compliance