Surveys & Special Reports

2017 Chief Legal Officer Survey

Each year since 2000, Altman Weil’s Chief Legal Officer Survey has provided insights into the state of in-house law departments from the perspective of their chief lawyers. Now in its eighteenth year, the 2017 survey identifies long-term trends, highlights new and emerging issues, and explores the reasons behind the findings.

The Chief Legal Officer (CLO) position is a complex job encompassing law, business and leadership roles – and the law departments they lead are not monolithic.  They range from solo shops with one lawyer who wears all hats, to departments with 1,000 or more lawyers that have a vast array of resources and an equal number of challenges.

This year, for the first time, the survey includes breakouts by department size to provide more depth and insight on management approaches and spending decisions.  In doing this, we have been able to identify where department size is a factor and where it does not appear to be material.  We also asked not only about the management tactics law departments are using in a variety of areas, but also whether or not each effort has resulted in a significant improvement in performance.

The report includes data on department personnel and operations as well as outside counsel management – and throughout the survey these internal and external elements intersect.  The push and pull of interdependence between law departments (as clients) and law firms (as their primary service providers) is evident.  At the same time, non-law-firm vendors and evolving technology tools play a growing role, offering new alternatives to the traditional ‘law firm-client’ pairing.

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