Corporate Counsel: GC Survey: Compliance, Ethics Top List of Concerns

Originally Published on Corporate Counsel | January 18, 2017 | By Sue Reisinger

More than half of general counsel responding to a recent survey named compliance and ethics management as their top priority for the year ahead. Labor and employment issues ranked second at 29 percent, and outside counsel management third at 27 percent.

The just-released 2017 General Counsel Report was conducted by the Consero Group, in partnership with labor law firm Fisher Phillips, and reflects the responses of 51 general counsel from mid- to large-sized companies who attended Consero general counsel forums in the United States and London in November.

In looking to the New Year, respondents were asked what they believed to be the greatest impediment to their department’s progress. Some 41 percent of GCs surveyed said the main roadblock will be access to budgetary resources. Another 19 percent cited a lack of buy-in from senior management.

Over 40 percent of the GCs expect their legal department spend to increase, while 44 percent do not foresee any changes. Over one-quarter of those surveyed have increased their use of alternative fee arrangements to combat an increase in expenses.

The report states, “This group of legal executives would be well served to continue seeking buy-in from top management and other stakeholders within their organizations, so that they may have access to the resources necessary to manage their function effectively.”

In other findings, the report says:

Two-thirds of the respondents reported their companies are prepared for cybersecurity threats.

But half the GCs cited data privacy and cybersecurity risk as their top challenge.

Some 57 percent of GCs reported not having the capacity to manage National Labor Relations Board changes. The report “reflects much of what we are hearing from our clients,” said a statement from Fisher Phillips chairman Roger Quillen.

The report concludes, “In 2017, general counsel can expect to spend more of their time focused on cybersecurity and data privacy, with plenty of attention going to compliance and ethics matters, as well as labor and employment issues.”