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The Increased Strain Chief Legal Officers Face

Chief Litigation Officers are finding themselves in an increasingly difficult role.  As litigation costs increase and the expenditures committed to meeting regulatory requirements rise as well, Chief Litigation Officers aren’t being allotted additional funds and personnel to meet these demands.  This leaves many legal teams overworked and understaffed.  The 2012 Chief Litigation Officer Data Survey confirms these findings.

In a study conducted in November 2012 by Consero, 48 legal officers at Fortune 1000 companies were polled regarding their current staff size and department funds.  While the survey shouldn’t be viewed as statistically significant due to the small sample size, the results are still indicative of current trends.  The outcome of the survey revealed that the overwhelming majority of legal teams have either decreased or remained unchanged since 2011.  Despite an increase in legal requirements in the past year, 73% of legal officers confirmed their teams are not growing or remain unchanged.

With the constant threat of litigation and government investigations and regulations, everyone is anticipating more strain and stress

Just as significant are the results officers reported on their budgets.  While the majority of those polled disclosed that they manage legal budgets between $5 million and $50 million, they also disclosed that those budgets have not grown in proportion to the increased workload.  Eighty-two percent of all survey participants confirmed their legal budgets either remained stagnant or decreased.  Thirty-one percent confirmed a decrease in budgetary allotments.

“With the constant threat of litigation and government investigations and regulations, everyone is anticipating more strain and stress,” said Consero’s CEO Paul Mandel, “but no one expects to see an increased investment in litigation overhead.”

This puts most legal departments in a considerable quandary.  Litigation and regulatory time and expenses continue to rise, but internal legal budgets and staff do not.  In fact, they are decreasing in notable percentages.  Fortunately for legal officers, there is a rising contingent of legal outsource solutions to help ease the strain of their current predicament.

While legal teams may not be receiving additional budgetary and staff support, they can look to optimize their departments and better utilize the resources at their disposal.  Particularly, legal officers should be prioritizing the tasks that are necessary to be handled by internal team members and delegating the tasks that are not.  There are tasks that legal officers can outsource to Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) providers at a fraction of the cost typical law firms charge, thereby saving precious internal resources.  These are typically tasks that are continually repeated throughout the course of business and require little to no specialized knowledge, including billing, e-discovery, document tracking and filing, medical and legal research, contract tracking and filing, secretarial services, and discovery and negotiation support.  Partnering with an outside legal group to support these traditional and repeatable legal tasks is all but mandatory to be successful in today’s legal world.  While budgets and staff support are not increasing with the rising legal demands, there is still an answer for Chief Legal Officers.  LPOs like American Discovery allow legal counsel to do more with less.