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Three ways survey respondents believe their legal department demonstrates value

Almost 900 in-house counsel from 10 countries responded to a survey published as Deloitte’s Global Corporate Counsel Report 2011. Five years ago, a similar survey found that the top three choices for ways the legal team demonstrates value were “timely resolution of legal problems,” “achieving best legal outcomes,” and “reducing legal risk.” In last year’s survey, the top three ways were timely resolution, reducing legal risk, and “achieving cost-effective resolution of legal problems.” The remaining two were “reducing external legal expenditure” and “building internal legal expertise of organization.”

Note that the respondents were choosing from a list and were voicing how they felt they were adding value. What clients might feel about the value proposition was not addressed. The question could have been “How do you think your clients would rank the following choices.”

The choices given on the survey did not include something like “helping the business achieve its goals.” The orientation toward “problem resolution suggests litigation presents the optimal role for law departments, but in my view it is commercial support that creates the most value.