Risk management as key value, optimism about growth of legal departments among findings of CCCA In-House Counsel Barometer Survey

  • April 15, 2013

TORONTO – Providing value closely tied to managing or reducing risk, career satisfaction,  optimistic outlook about legal department's future, among the key findings contained in the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association (CCCA) and Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP's 2013 In-House Counsel Barometer Survey.

Created in conjunction with Vision Critical, the annual survey focuses on current attitudes and opinions of Canadian in-house counsel. “The survey provides crucial insight into the opportunities and challenges for in-house counsel in Canada,” says Grant Borbridge, Q.C., of Calgary, Chair of CCCA. “It continues to provide a solid basis from which CCCA develops programs and services of value for our members.”

“It is interesting that a majority (72%) of respondents cite risk management, followed by helping achieve strategic and operating objectives (45%), and providing strategic advice (43%) as the key form of value their legal department provides their organization,” says Mr. Borbridge. “At the same time, they report the most challenging aspect of their role continues to be the day-to-day workload leaves little time for legal work of strategic value.”

The results of the Barometer Survey were released on April 15 during the CCCA National Spring Conference April 14-16 at the Hilton Toronto. Survey highlights include:

Respondents are generally optimistic that their legal department will grow in the future. One-third believes their department has grown over the past year and the same proportion (34%) believes their staff will increase over the next three years. This optimistic outlook is partially rooted in necessity; half (48%) of in-house counsel members report their legal department is not adequately resourced.  This sentiment represents a distinct shift from perceptions in 2008-2009 when in-house counsel were more pessimistic about future growth.

Endorsement of in-house counsel continues to be high: nearly all (93%) participants are likely to recommend in-house counsel as a career to friends or colleagues in private practice. In fact, 60% report being very likely to recommend this career path, further showing participants' enthusiasm for the job of in-house counsel. Additionally, a significant majority (83%) indicate that if they could do it all over again, they would choose the same career path.  

Legal project management techniques have not taken hold. Only 23% of legal departments use such techniques and only five percent have hired a project manager or trained someone to be a legal project manager.

A number of new topics and questions were introduced in the 2013 In-House Counsel Barometer Survey, including Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Use of ADR methods is low across the board. The most common ADR, used by one-third (33%) of in-house counsel, involves interest-based approaches to negotiation. One-quarter (24%) of in-house counsel anticipate that their organization’s use of ADR will increase in the next three years.

The full survey is being made available on April 15 in hard copy at the conference. To receive the survey results electronically, please contact Karen Sadler.

The CCCA National Spring Conference takes place April 14-16, at the Hilton Toronto. As 2013 marks the CCCA’s 25th anniversary, the theme of the conference is 25 Years of In-House Excellence

Sessions are open to accredited media. Accreditation may be obtained by contacting Hannah Bernstein. Media are asked to check in at the registration desk on the Conference Floor.

An integral group within the 37,000-member Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association is dedicated to supporting and enhancing the interests of Canadian corporate counsel. CCCA provides uniquely Canadian perspectives, resources, tools, professional development, conferences and peer-to-peer networking opportunities.

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