General Counsel Digital Age

General Counsel Role Changing with the Adoption of AI

Developed in partnership with the Corporate Counsel Business Journal (CCBJ), The OpenText and CCBJ Modern General Counsel Survey analyses the impact technology has on the general counsel's current role and measures the appetite for greater adoption of pioneering technologies - such as artificial intelligence (AI) - to improve workflow efficiencies and optimise legal operations for better data-informed decisions.

OpenText shared the results of the new survey that revealed the need for better adoption of legal technology innovations to support in-house general counsels' transition from their traditional role as a detached cost centre to an influential C-Suite strategic partner.

The survey highlights that 91% of all respondents indicate that technology is critical or important to meet legal strategy, objectives, and challenges to optimise operations, reduce costs, and improve risk management. This includes innovative technologies such as advanced analytics, AI, and machine learning with a desire to automate workflows and solve complex legal programs. 

The top reasons in favour of greater AI implementation include: 

    • Over half (60%) of all respondents agree that AI would free up time to perform higher-value work.
    • 55% of all respondents agree AI would boost the productivity of in-house legal teams.
    • 41% of all respondents see automation of manual tasks as the biggest opportunity for productivity improvements for their legal departments.
    • Almost half (49%) of all respondents believe AI could assist with the automation and simplification of time-consuming and error-prone manual processes.

As a result, 72% of all respondents went on to state that the Chief Information Officer (CIO) now plays a critical or important role in the delivery of legal innovation strategies. However, 40% indicate that a lack of IT advocacy and collaboration is preventing the implementation of new technologies, such as AI-based legal tech solutions, to modernise legal departments. 

"The role of the general counsel is evolving rapidly to meet new demands and to thrive in the digital age. Traditionally slower to embrace innovative technologies, now, the legal industry must digitally transform by adopting tools, such as AI, to successfully embody its new role as an influential C-Suite strategic partner," said Michael F. Acedo, Chief Legal Officer, Corporate Secretary and EVP at OpenText. "By adopting such technologies, in-house legal teams can transform themselves from perceived corporate bottleneck and cost centre to a proactive, agile leader spearheading the enterprise digital transformation journey." 

The survey also reveals that the modern general counsel must be strategically relevant and innovative to thrive in the digital age as the 'traditional' role of the general counsel shifts due to a number of internal and external factors, including increasing regulations and compliance mandates:

    • 87% of all respondents agree or strongly agree that the role of the general counsel is shifting from legal advisor to strategic and influential partner to other senior executives.
    • 69% of all respondents identified expanded responsibilities in other risk areas, including cybersecurity, data privacy, and risk management, as having the biggest impact on their role.
    • Top responsibilities identified as new or critical focus areas included compliance monitoring (63%), data privacy management (47%) and cybersecurity planning (36%).  

Crucially, the survey reaffirmed that in today's legal department, technology is no longer just a nice-to-have but an essential tool to be leveraged effectively, with C-Suite support, to adequately protect and serve the business. With increased responsibilities, the need to innovate is critical to drive business outcomes and address increased data complexity, cyber threats and new data privacy obligations. 

OpenText's Vision for Artificial Intelligence
AI will change everything, every industry, every organisation, every role. For 30 years, enterprises have trusted OpenText to manage operational and experience data leveraging AI. Now, with generative AI, there is a new layer of learning data that must be managed and advanced. Guided by its vision and strategy for AI, OpenText.ai, the information company, has integrated AI capabilities across its portfolio with the Aviator solution suite. For more information, visit opentext.ai.

Survey methodology
OpenText and Corporate Counsel Business Journal conducted a research study by surveying 289 legal professionals—74 per cent of whom are located in North America—between July and August 2023. The respondents represent a broad range of industries from Banking and Financial Services, Manufacturing, Healthcare and Government, and many others.

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Disclaimer:  The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Novum Learning or Legal Practice Intelligence (LPI). While every attempt has been made to ensure that the information in this article has been obtained from reliable sources, neither Novum Learning or LPI nor the author is responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information, as the content published here is for information purposes only. The article does not constitute a comprehensive or complete statement of the matters discussed or the law relating thereto and does not constitute professional and/or financial advice.

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