Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on in-house legal operations

COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on work practices across every industry, and law is no exception.

And according to global legal, risk and compliance recruitment consultancy firm Taylor Root, “whilst it is difficult to predict what the future may hold for in-house legal teams after the worst of COVID-19 passes, what is clear is that the pandemic has revealed the inextricable importance of the corporate counsel function for businesses and organisations globally.”

Taylor Root has released its ‘2020 Global In-house Market Report & COVID-19 Impact Survey’, which highlights the impact & opportunities for inhouse legal professionals around the globe.

Focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on in-house legal teams, the report confirms its undoubted disruptive impact, but also shines a light on the opportunities and positive implications beginning to emerge from the crisis.

The survey revealed that COVID-19 is continuing to impact businesses across the globe, with current impact averaging 2.4 on 5-point scale (5 representing the most severe impact). Many respondents commented that they expect the impact level to increase over the next 6 to 12 months averaging 3.2 and 3.5 points, with conditions not improving for at least 24 months (2.1), but do not see it completely dissipating. It is clear that regardless of the size or geographic footprint of a company, the COVID-19 crisis will have a long-term impact on all economies across the globe.

The report revealed that 91% of respondents felt their team was able to pivot quickly when the pandemic hit and 67% of respondents felt their company was well-prepared for the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

This is not to say that the pandemic and the workplace changes have not been challenging.

The survey found that almost all legal teams surveyed have been impacted by the pandemic in one way or another, with over 40% witnessing increased workload, and of this group over majority finding it difficult to predict how long their workload will remain at its elevated level.

In-house counsel has also had to face any challenges during the pandemic with 67% stating their biggest challenge was managing a team remotely and 56% stating difficulties in providing legal counsel on unprecedented issues.

Respondents were generally positive about the transition to remote working. The overwhelming sentiment was that losing the “dreaded commute” had been positive, although a common challenge was identified as “missing the office environment and the social aspect of work”. Top of the list was juggling work-life balance.

Key statistic comparisons across the regions.

  Global UK Europe Middle East Asia Australia North America
Felt they were well-equipped to adjust & pivot quickly 91% 82% 84% 88% 71% 97% 88%
Felt company was well prepared for the pandemic 78% 79% 71% 60% 55% 73% 73%
Endured increased workload 40% 45% 35% 39% 26% 53% 43%
Missing the office environment and the social aspect of work 39% 39% 36% 42% 41% 50% 36%
Difficult to balance my personal life with my professional life 34% 35% 27% 44% 35% 42% 45%
Personal earnings have been impacted by the pandemic 34% 34% 33% 35% 29% 27% 39%

 

Reflecting on the results, Taylor Root Global Partnerships Director, Ben Cockram said “for legal professionals around the world, the COVID-19 crisis has presented many positive opportunities to change the future of their work. The previous rigidity and lack of flexibility of legal workplaces has been restrictive for many diverse and talented legal professionals, COVID-19 has changed that. The focus is now on the effectiveness of work delivered, as opposed to hours recorded in the office,” he said.

Mr Cockram further commented, “The findings of our survey have shown that the legal profession can emerge from the crisis in an even better place than when it started, and if the changes that emerged during the crisis are embraced, organisations will continue to thrive long into the future.”

The full report, complete with international commentary from all Taylor Root’s regions, can be found on the Taylor Root website.

Article Published: 27/10/2020