Labor & Employment Law Claims Rank Highest Among CLO Concerns

In a recent survey by the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), a global bar association representing more than 30,000 in-house counsel, chief legal officers (CLO) took an unbiased look at their top concerns for the past, present and the future, along with a prioritization of their business issues. About 1,100 CLOs from 36 countries participated in the survey, the largest global survey of CLOs.

Not surprisingly, building a foundation supported by a strong ethics and compliance program ranked highest among the top issues facing CLOs, followed by the issue of regulatory or governmental changes. These two issues rated high in terms of importance — both in the past 12 months and for the next 12 months.

The top business issues involved having an awareness of company activities that may have legal implications; maintaining open lines of communication between legal and senior management; and staying current and well-informed of changes in the law.

Seventy-eight percent of participants also found their jobs to include “fulfilling dual roles of business executive and legal adviser,” as they spent most of their time advising C-Suite executives and participating in strategic corporate issues.

Looking toward 2013

Participants expect to direct their attention to issues related to transparency and privacy obligations.  Based on increased data collection and storage and growing attention paid by regulators and public scrutiny, these issues will become more prevalent in both private and public sectors. Information privacy is becoming a hot topic with the lines between personal and professional devices getting constantly blurred.

In addition, the legal protection of the right to privacy varies vastly across the world. This survey revealed that 75 percent of participants indicated some level of importance for information privacy over the past 12 months, and 20 percent of those believe it would be of even greater importance in the next 12 months.

Ninety-five percent of legal departments direct their administrative and operational departments to in-house resources, and when applicable, e-discovery is one function that is primarily outsourced. The top three non-legal skills CLOs look to develop within their departments are business management (63 percent), communication (53 percent) and project management (52 percent).

Anti-Corruption: Not a concern?

Some issues showed unpredictably low on the list of concerns, such as anti-corruption, which does not necessarily match what NAVEX Global is seeing from many compliance clients. Other lower-ranked issues are the concern for whistleblowing, anti-bribery and health-care reform, along with issues related to managing costs and spending within the legal department.

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