As CEOs face increasing pressure from boards and stakeholders to embrace digital initiatives that deliver more efficient operations and new revenue streams, it’s no surprise that corporate law departments are subject to similar demands to reduce costs, demonstrate digital readiness and innovation, and be fully accountable for their performance, just like any other business unit.

The challenge for GCs and CLOs is formidable, not least because the new focus on operational efficiency represents a major cultural shift for many law departments. The latest Altman Weil survey of CLOs reveals that they spend, on average, just 18% of their time actually managing the law department, even as they note that their CEOs and boards increasingly regard “supporting business objectives” as a vital measure of department performance. Perhaps it’s time for GCs and CLOs to give the very important work of managing the department higher priority, with the goal of becoming an integral part of the business that routinely demonstrates measurable value rather than operating in isolation.

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