Canadian Corporate Law Departments Focus on Combining Effectiveness and Efficiency
Canada looked like a growth market for the legal profession when 2020 began, and as spend was expected to grow, in-house teams’ strategic priorities centered on two core areas: being more effective and efficient. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the global economic fallout, these primary goals have largely remained unchanged.
These are among the findings of the 2020 State of the Legal Market in Canada report issued by Acritas, Peer Monitor and the Legal Executive Institute, all part of Thomson Reuters. The report draws on research Acritas conducted in 2018 and 2019 with more than 2,000 senior legal decision makers across the globe, as well as 251 interviews within Canada. Interviews have continued throughout 2020, and a review of the latest intelligence from corporate legal departments was undertaken to ensure the report findings reflect current conditions.
Currently, the implementation of some international projects and external transactions have been put on hold, and corporate law departments are prioritizing their most pressing issues. Yet slowly, the industry has shifted from immediate crisis management to short-term planning. Some corporates are even starting to investigate opportunities that COVID-19 may bring in terms of operational growth and resilience.
For many legal departments, their core strategic priorities – delivering more effective service to their internal clients, and doing so while operating more efficiently – remain, with differing levels of emphasis. Also unchanged is the expectation corporate departments are putting on their outside law firms to support them. External legal advisors must match these priorities to compete in this evolving landscape.
Legal teams also must accommodate changes in legal technology and process innovation, including alternative solutions. A core trend of the last recession was growth in alternative solutions as clients became eager to experiment with legal technology and process innovations, as well as new delivery methods.
This, in turn, will provide more competition for established law firms, which must pay close attention to their levels of client service and deliver what really matters to their clients. The report encourages law firms to follow in-house legal teams’ lead on pushing for effectiveness and efficiency, and to concentrate on service.
More than anywhere else in the world, Canadian companies prioritize client service over other factors. The law firms that understand, respond to and support their clients’ particular needs will benefit most from this growing market. As COVID-19 brings change and uncertainty, service becomes even more critical for firms to get right.
To download the 2020 State of the Legal Market in Canada report, click here.