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KPMG: General Counsel influence grows

By Rob Starr, Content Manager, Big4.com

Companies around the world are threatened by a growing tide of regulation, according to a new report by KPMG which charts the views of 320 in-house General Counsel, but finds those using their legal skills to help make commercial decisions are the ones that will best thrive in the new environment. The report, conducted by global research agency Meridien West, interviewed General Counsel from 32 countries who gave their views on a wide range of issues, from relationships with the Board to the risk and regulatory challenges ahead and managing future disputes.

“Companies are facing a cloud of regulation that is adding a layer of complexity to almost every commercial decision that they need to take and risks casting a further shadow at a time of low economic growth in mature economies,” says  Kathryn Britten, Global Head of KPMG’s Legal Services Sector. “General Counsel are increasingly being required to act as the barometer for their organizations, gauging the pressure and helping to scan the horizon for future threats.  It is clear that involving general counsel in commercial decision making is now the norm for those companies that are successfully navigating today’s risk landscape. ”

This shift in role to forward-looking commercial consultant has not been without its issues for General Counsel. According to the survey around two thirds of General Counsel are now more involved in business decisions than they were 5 years ago, a very significant move forward. However, there is clearly some way to go, with 80 percent of General Counsel saying their involvement can reduce the number of disputes and regulatory issues their companies face. It is clear that some organizations still see legal departments simply in terms of their traditional function or as a “necessary evil” – a phrase that was used by around one-third of those interviewed in-depth for the research.

 

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