Corporate Counsel: Amid Growing Risks, Chief Litigators Feel Underfunded

Originally Published in Corporate Counsel | By Sue Reisinger | June 27, 2016

A recent survey of chief litigation counsel in the insurance and financial services industries suggests that the counsel are seriously challenged and underresourced.

The data is derived from 59 chief litigation officers who participated in an April survey conducted by the Consero Group in connection with a forum for litigation chiefs in the two industries.

“The survey results highlight in particular the persistent challenge chief litigators face in managing regulatory risk in financial services and insurance,” says Paul Mandell, founder and CEO of event coordinator Consero. “These executives appear underresourced in their efforts to stay on top of, and help their companies adapt to, periodic changes in the regulatory landscape at home and abroad.”

Some 57 percent of respondents reported not having enough resources to manage their department’s operations effectively. “In light of the number of opportunities and risks they face, executives in these industries should focus on securing sufficient access to resources in the coming year,” the report advised.

The litigators said that their top areas of focus for the coming year are reducing legal spend, with 53 percent, and managing litigation strategy, at 46 percent. Data privacy and cybersecurity finished third, at 42 percent.

In discussing their top risks, 35 percent of the respondents cited regulatory changes, followed by data privacy and cybersecurity at 26 percent. “Unfortunately, all signs point to more work for litigators in tackling regulatory risk in the future,” Mandel noted.

Another top area of concern is class action lawsuits. Some 70 percent said that they had either filed a class action or their company was named in one in the last 12 months. The report suggested that number is high because of the “consumer-facing nature of their industries.”

In other findings, the survey showed:

* In internal investigations, 33 percent of the litigation chiefs lead them; 50 percent co-lead them with someone outside legal; 17 percent play no role.

* 43 percent said that they are playing an active role in their companies’ cybersecurity and data privacy issues, while 90 percent already have a crisis management playbook in place or are developing one.

* Over one-third of the respondents increased their use of alternative fee arrangements in the past year, and 72 percent said that their outside counsel were providing sufficient value for the cost.