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Closing the ‘innovation gap’ will allow in-house legal functions to transform their operations

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Pattni Rajiv
Rajiv Pattni

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05 October 2020

New in-depth research from global law firm Allen & Overy has revealed that there is a significant ‘innovation gap’ between the intent and actions taken by in-house legal functions when it comes to transforming their operations. 

In The Allen & Overy legal innovation benchmarking report 92 senior in-house leaders, such as General Counsel and Head of Legal Operations, spanning 18 countries globally, were surveyed to find out where in their legal innovation journey they are: reacting (starting out on the innovation journey), anticipating (on the cusp of significant change), or engaging (actively changing).  

The research shows that overwhelmingly, leaders of in-house functions have ambitions to change with over 80% aiming to change in a systematic way, whether through continuous, incremental improvement (57%) or transformational change (24%).

In order to successfully achieve innovation-based change, the majority of the leaders of the in-house functions surveyed stated they had a clear vision of what they wish to achieve and its importance to the future success of their function. The results show 75% of in-house leaders have either developed a strategy with a substantial emphasis on innovation, or are planning to develop one.

However, most in-house leaders have not yet embraced the new approaches, technologies, data and resources necessary in order to realise their innovation visions. The survey revealed, for example, that although 53% of respondents have cited the need to have better data as their main driver for innovation, only 15% have data analysts/scientists dedicated to their team and only 30% have technology managers.

Jonathan Brayne, partner and Chair of Fuse, commented: “The research we have conducted has shown us that in-house legal functions are ambitious to change and improve. However, while there are drivers to innovation, there are barriers too.

“Those legal functions enjoying the most success from innovation-based change (what we call the engaging group) make extensive use of established change management techniques and seek out innovation skills, whether by bringing them into the legal function or engaging external providers.  But most legal functions haven’t yet taken this on board.  They would find it easier to become agents of change if they did.”

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