Canadian Lawyer InHouse

April/May 2021

Legal news and trends for Canadian in-house counsel and c-suite executives

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4 NEWS ROUNDUP CHIEF LEGAL OFFICERS SURVEY NEWS BRIEFS Legal departments set to expand ACC survey highlights evolving role of chief legal officers and importance of legal operations Despite the business disruption and economic impact of the ongoing pandemic crisis, 32 per cent of law departments plan to hire more lawyers in 2021, according to a survey conducted by the Association of Corporate Counsel. This response is a slight increase from 30 per cent of departments indicating an intention to hire more lawyers in last year's report. The ACC 2021 Chief Legal Officers Survey also revealed that among departments that expect to add more lawyers in-house, almost half of them also expect to outsource more work to law firms in 2021, indicating an expectation of increased work volume. "We were interested to find that law departments are growing in spite of COVID-19 — or perhaps even because of COVID-19 and the increased responsibilities it's brought," says Veta Richardson, president and CEO of ACC. "This finding tells us that there are a number of legal regulatory compliance challenges and real estate needs that corporations are facing which are contributing to making lawyers very busy. There is a recognition that in-house counsel provide superior services that can be tailored and focused on the needs of the corporation." Twenty per cent of departments plan on adding paralegals, and 12.7 per cent expect to hire additional legal operations professionals this year. Legal ops has become more critical than ever before, with 61 per cent of legal departments indicating that they have at least one legal operations professional on staff — the highest percentage observed since ACC began tracking this metric. "It's interesting that legal operations is now more of a strategic imperative for legal departments," says Richardson. "Lawyers are focusing less on the day-to-day operations and management of the department, making legal ops professionals great partners and allies to step in and take on that important responsib- ility and free up time for lawyers to focus on the things they do best, which is to contribute to strategy in the legal counselling realm." In a continuing trend, 78 per cent of chief legal officers report directly to the CEO. Among those who do not report to the CEO, 44 per cent report to the chief financial officer, and the remainder report to other C-suite positions. Indicating an expanding role, CLOs spend only about one-third of their time providing legal advice. The ACC's Chief Legal Officer Survey, conducted in partnership with software company Exterro, surveyed 947 participants across 21 industries in 44 countries. "Lawyers are focusing less on the day-to- day operations and management of the department." Veta Richardson, ACC Lex Mundi report suggests increase in M&A Although the impact of COVID-19 on deal terms is a significant concern, dealmakers are more concerned by legislative and regulatory changes, national security or foreign investment restrictions and antitrust considerations. Lex Mundi's Global M&A Trends Report 2021 found that most firms expect 2021 to see increased deal activity in both public and private M&A. Deal activity picked up pace in the second half of 2020 in Canada. This optimism looks set to continue, with 58 per cent of law firm participants in North America predicting a greater volume of M&A in 2021 versus the previous year. Women GCs strengthen boards Of all the general counsel holding positions on public company boards in Canada, 66 per cent are now women, according to the 2020 Blakes Board Report: Opportunities for Women General Counsel. This compares to 61 per cent in 2019 and 59 per cent in 2016, indicating a continuing positive trajectory for women. Since the launch of Blakes' first benchmarking study in 2016, there has been a 66-per-cent increase in the number of GCs on boards, and 75 per cent of that growth has gone to women GCs. CLOC launches expanded membership model The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium has commenced the previously announced transformational initiative to expand its membership, which now allows for the inclusion of any professional serving in the legal industry. The existing membership of in-house

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