Perceptions of Legal: A Conversation With PwC

PwC US Legal Business Solutions Consulting Leader and Global Oversight Board Member Jane Allen recently sat down with Onit for an in-depth conversation about the insights gained from 2023’s Enterprise Legal Reputation Report. Here are some key takeaways from the discussion (view the webinar in its entirety here).

For the second year in a row, Onit’s holistic Enterprise Legal Reputation (ELR) report helped deliver keen insight into just how Legal can be perceived by internal clients — surveying over 4,000 enterprise employees and 500 corporate legal professionals around the globe. In this episode of “A Conversation”, PwC US Legal Business Solutions Leader Jane Allen shared her thoughts on some of the conclusions from the Report.

Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:

The overall corporate image of the Legal function remains positive across the globe. Legal is viewed as “protectors of the business, assets, and people” across the United States (55%), France (48%), the United Kingdom (41%), and Germany (33%). This positive image remains even as the current environment can make the job of Legal far more complicated.

“Legal is there to protect the people, the business, the IP, all of it,” Allen says. “I also think that doing this foundational piece has become far more complex and difficult, especially if you look at geopolitical issues and the evolving regulatory landscape – which can resemble a game of whack-a-mole in some places.”

Over the span of one year, the percentage of corporate employees that believe Legal works well with their internal function has declined across all areas:

Allen believes that as companies need to rapidly shift strategies due to changing business conditions and technologies – significant transformations all around – Legal’s responsibilities can become overwhelming.

“Again, everything has become more complex,” Allen says. “Teams have less and less capacity to try to respond to their internal constituents. There is more on the legal function, and frankly, they are not getting much more headcount or budget. I think these numbers are the result of that.”

The first two takeaways can deliver both good and bad news: Legal does have a positive reputation as the protector of the business — however, relationships with other departments across the organization are strained. The next point directs us to where Legal needs to go: 56% of respondents said that Legal can have a “positive effect” on revenue operations.

Allen points to three key takeaways from this statistic:

  • It’s indicative of leadership turnover. “Over the past year, we’ve noticed more turnover in the CLO / GC community,” Allen says. “These new folks want to set strategy, and they are doing a great job about being strategic — not only managing the bottom line but adding to the top line revenue and making sure that the rest of the company sees and feels their efforts.
  • It’s indicative of new Legal organizational leadership. “Another trend is seeing more GCs and CLOs move into C-suite roles,” Allen says. “That cites just how much of the business they know and how companies can see Legal as a revenue driver that knows the organization inside and out.”
  • It’s indicative of Legal’s work in contracting. “Legal helps drive improvements in the contracting process — leveraging data tools, looking at trends, increasing efficiency, and boosting the speed- to market,” Allen says. “The business feels it immediately. They are helping the top line and hopefully leveraging data and insights to see who they should collaborate with — and who they should not. I think that top-of-the-house legal leaders, if they think strategically in that direction, will change the name of the game of how Legal is viewed within the organization.”

Click here to view the rest of the interview.

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