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ICW | Mondaq

Global In-House Counsel Report 2024

Unique Insights into the Global In-House Profession

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In-House Counsel Worldwide (ICW) and Mondaq are ​pleased to present the results of our inaugural 2024 ​Global In-House Counsel Survey.

This report provides insight into the current state and ​future trends of the global in-house counsel ​profession. With global in-house counsel respondents ​from over 60 countries and feedback across all in-​house job levels, the report provides unique insights ​into areas including investment priorities, in-house ​activities, outsourcing, as well as several important ​people-focused topics.

We’d like to thank the global in-house community for ​their participation in our new survey, as well as our ​advisory board participants for their sage counsel. ​Thank you also to our survey and report sponsor, ​Alexa Translations, for enabling us to further amplify ​the survey findings and analysis.

It’s our hope that you’ll find this report useful in ​helping you to make informed decisions about your ​and your global legal department’s priorities now and ​in the future.

In-House Counsel Worldwide (ICW) is a global ​network of member-associations that represent ​the legal professionals who work as corporate ​counsel and/or in-house lawyers within ​companies or organisations.

The primary mandate of ICW is to unite this ​community globally to share best practices, ​standardize competencies, promote standards ​and ethics, and collaborate to advance this ​sector of the legal profession for both the ​lawyers and their organisations.

Mondaq is a leading global provider of AI-​enabled content marketing, data and analytics ​solutions for professional services firms. ​Mondaq powers firms’ marketing & business ​development success through client, prospect ​and market insights based on a global ​audience of senior-level decision makers.

Mondaq delivers answers to legal, tax and ​compliance questions to an audience of over ​20 million readers worldwide.

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In March 2024, ICW and Mondaq launched a new, ​annual Global In-House Counsel Survey.

The survey’s aim is to provide unique insight into global ​legal departments and the global in-house counsel ​profession, by being one of the most comprehensive ​and representative surveys into the state of global in-​house legal departments.

Nearly 400 respondents from over 60 countries, across ​different job levels, completed the 41-question online ​survey between March and May 2024, with questions ​covering a number of areas that are important to global ​in-house legal departments and in-house counsel, ​including investment priorities, in-house activity, ​outsourcing, technology and innovation and people-​focussed questions (culture, challenges, wellbeing, ​equality, diversity & inclusion).

This was followed by a voluntary self-identification ​section, which over 50% of respondents went on to ​complete.

To provide rigorous oversight and authority, the survey ​was designed in partnership with our survey Advisory ​Board, which includes eminent global in-house counsel.

Advisory Board

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Steven Rotstein



Philippe Coen

Vice President


Daniel Choo


Singapore Corporate ​Counsel Association

Alison Lee

Chief Executive Officer

Corporate Counsel Association ​of South Africa




Organization Size by Employees


The survey responses have provided the representative ​view we were seeking, with 38% of participants ​providing a view from the top (CLOs/GCs) and excellent ​representation throughout global legal departments, ​with a significant number of Senior Counsel (17%), ​Counsel (13%) and Director of Legal Services/Legal ​Manager (17%).

The survey saw excellent response levels from public ​companies (36%) and private companies (53%), ​representing all the key industry sectors and ​organization sizes, as well as from government ​organizations (5%) and not-for profits (4%).

The survey responses are also geographically ​distributed, from North America (27%) to Latin America ​(10%), Europe (20%), Asia Pacific (28%) and the Middle ​East & Africa (15%), to provide a regionally balanced lens ​into the global in-house profession. More survey ​respondent specifics are to be found in the Participant ​Profile charts to the right.

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As the effects of troubling regional conflicts and ​political turmoil reverberate through the world’s ​economies, In-House Counsel Worldwide & Mondaq’s ​2024 In-House Counsel Report seeks to reveal the ​challenges, issues and priorities facing global in-​house legal teams worldwide.

The extensive questionnaire and survey participation ​allow us to provide unique insight into the current ​state of global legal departments and their direction of ​travel for the coming year – as well as insights into the ​global in-house professional today.

In the current climate, in-house counsel face ​numerous challenges – which can be seen as ​contributors to dramatically rising levels of workload ​and a corresponding increase in work-related stress ​and anxiety levels.

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In response, almost four out of ten legal departments ​expect to see growth in global in-house counsel ​budgets over the coming year. Demand for in-house ​services looks set to rise significantly – with ​investment in additional people and technology being ​the main focus of increased spend.

Within this increasing demand for in-house services, ​there is a strong emphasis on supporting business ​growth, with risk management and compliance ​responsibilities also prominent. In fact, in-house ​counsel are carrying a significant breadth of ​accountabilities beyond their legal remit. These ​include compliance, ethics, company secretarial, ​investigations and government relations ​responsibilities.


of respondents seeing an increase in

work-related stress and anxiety levels in

the last year

The increasing levels of accountabilities raise the ​prospect of a potential employee wellbeing and ​mental health crisis looming in the coming years. ​There is limited evidence of companies recognizing ​the emerging need to prioritize employee support and ​wellbeing within legal departments.

The changing landscape and the attendant demand ​for in-house legal services is also driving increased ​spend on technology. Globally, around two-thirds of ​companies expect to invest more in technology. But ​almost 8 in 10 view cost as the biggest barrier to ​technology adoption.

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Increasing levels of in-house demand, ​workload and accountabilities raise the ​prospect of a potential employee wellbeing ​and mental health crisis

AI / Generative AI is a key focus area for innovation for ​a substantial 44% of companies globally. We also ​expect to see investment growth in supportive ​technologies around data privacy and security ​management – plus the digitalization and automation ​of contracts, documents and processes.

Post-pandemic, hybrid working models now seem ​well-established with over 70% of counsel able to ​access a mix of office and home or remote working ​arrangements. However, there are stark differences ​regionally, with 81% of counsel in Europe and 74% in ​North America offered hybrid, compared to just 32% ​in the Middle East and Africa.

But concerns around employee engagement, remote ​use of sensitive data and confidence in remote-​working technology may be adding to rising stress ​levels – and spotlight where employee support may ​need to be focused.

legal departments expect ​to see growth in global

in-house counsel budgets ​over the coming year

4 OUT OF 10

While additional investment in people and technology ​will meet much of the rising demand for internal ​services, companies also expect to increase their ​spending on outside counsel. From the buy-side, ​when selecting outside counsel there is almost ​universal consensus that practical advice, legal ​expertise and understanding of the buyer’s business ​are the most important factors – far more so than the ​existence of senior-level relationships.

It is evident that the best in-house lawyers today ​require so much more than legal skills. Our survey ​shows that understanding of the business stands out ​as the primary requirement, with flexibility and the ​ability to give practical advice much to the fore – ​alongside legal expertise.

It’s likely that the broadening of accountabilities and ​demand for business-aware skills indicate a rise in ​reach and influence that in-house counsel can have ​within the organization.

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The best in-house lawyers today require so​ much more than legal skills​

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Budgets & Investment Priorities

Almost four in ten global legal departments (38%) ​expect to see growth in global in-house counsel ​budgets over the coming year. This is significantly ​more than the 18% that expect budgets to decline.

The most pronounced growth is likely to be in the ​privately held companies. Here, 42% expect budget ​growth compared to just 15% expecting decline. But ​among publicly held companies, the difference ​narrows to just 28% that expect budget growth ​against 22% expecting decline.

But there is a marked difference across regions, with ​budget growth expectations being highest in Middle ​East & Africa and Latin America. Almost two-thirds ​(65%) of MEA and 47% of LatAm headquartered ​companies expect budgets to rise. In Asia Pacific the ​percentage drops to 34% both Europe and North ​America, that proportion drops to just under

one-third (32%).

Technology is the clear leader among investment ​priorities. Globally around two-thirds of public and ​private companies expect to increase technology ​spending. The regional picture is broadly consistent, ​with 55-60% of companies expecting to spend more ​on technology. Across most regions a small ​proportion of legal departments – fewer than 5% – ​expect to reduce their technology investment. North ​America is the exception, where 13% of companies ​expect to spend less on legal department technology.

Expected Size of The Total Global In-House Legal ​Department Budget Over The Next Year:

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Technology is the clear leader among ​investment priorities. Two-thirds of global ​legal departments expect to increase ​technology spending

Staffing is the next main beneficiary of additional ​investment, with 39% of companies globally expecting ​budget growth for in-house staff. In Middle East & ​Africa region the figure rises significantly to 67%. ​Across the globe this increase is likely driven by both ​salary inflation as well as via new recruitment, as 34% ​of organizations globally expect in-house headcount ​growth.

Global legal departments also expect to increase their ​spending on outside counsel, albeit at a more modest ​rate than on technology and staffing. The proportion of ​private companies expecting to do so (35%) is ​significantly higher than those expecting to reduce ​outside counsel spending (23%). The figures broadly ​balance for public companies, indicating tighter ​management of spend on outside counsel in listed ​companies.

Where outside counsel budget growth is expected, the ​regional picture is mixed. 35-37% of companies across ​North America, Asia-Pacific and Middle East & Africa ​expect to spend more, 31% of Latin American ​companies but only 24% of European companies. ​Europe is also the only region where there is a higher ​proportion (28%) of companies expecting to reduce ​their spend on external counsel.

Expected Increase in In-House Demand

Additional investment in both technology and staff may ​be as a consequence of increased pressure on in-​house demand, with large rises expected in global ​legal department activity across a range of areas.

Large majorities of global in-house departments expect ​to see increasing focus in areas such as Risk & ​Compliance (72%), Data Privacy (62%) and Contract ​Management (57%). Departments can also expect ​substantial increases in activities around Business ​Strategy & Advice (41%), Dispute Resolution (34%) and ​Labour & Employment (29%).

So, while demand for in-house services looks set to ​rise significantly, investment in additional people and ​technology is expected to scale up to meet that ​demand.

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Reliance on outside counsel will remain strong ​despite the anticipated rise in legal department ​headcount. This may in part be a response to ​heightened levels of accountability and demand on in-​house resources. In the coming year, almost one-third ​(32%) of companies globally expect to spend more on ​outsourcing work to external counsel. But this will be ​offset by 23% reducing their outsourcing spend. So, ​the overall increase in spending is likely to be ​relatively modest.

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Reliance on outside counsel will remain ​strong despite the anticipated rise in

legal department headcount

All of the regions, bar Europe, are expecting a modest ​increase in the value of work outsourced to outside ​counsel. North America and Asia Pacific are expecting ​the biggest increase, while Europe is one of the ​only ​regions where the number of organizations ​expecting ​to spend less on outside counsel, outweigh ​those ​planning to spend more.

Important Factors When Selecting Outside Counsel

As to the crucial factors for buyers when selecting ​outside counsel, there is a high correlation of the top ​five buy-side drivers both across regions and between ​public and private companies. In fact, there’s almost ​universal consensus that practical advice (99%), legal ​expertise (98%) and understanding of the buyer’s ​business (97%) are the most important factors. Over 8 ​in 10 companies also rate each of these as ‘very ​important’. Client service (94%) and value for money ​(93%) are the next most important. It’s notable that ​North American companies place a distinctly higher ​priority on client service, with three-quarters rating it ​very important, against the global figure of 67%. Only ​22% of companies say existing senior-level ​relationships are very important. This may indicate to ​firms that buyers may no longer set so much store in ​long-standing relationships.

When Outsourcing



Outsource within

their Home Country

Outsource outside of

their Home Country

Top 3 Buy-Side Factors When Selecting Outside Counsel


pr​actical advice


legal ​expertise


understanding of ​the ​buyer’s business

Turning to the types of work most likely to be ​outsourced, we see highest demand for outside ​counsel in areas new to the organization (73% of ​respondents) – and where it seeks expert opinion or ​assurance on specific activities or transactions (70%). ​Over half of respondents (55%) would also seek ​outside counsel advice both in emerging areas of law, ​and for activities where there’s a lack of internal ​capacity. Interestingly, public companies’ global legal ​departments are 20% more likely than their private ​counterparts to outsource advice on emerging areas ​of law.

These four main areas are common across both ​private and public companies, and across all regions. ​There is also a clear distance between the top four ​and other criteria for outsourced work.

Other Outsourcing

Broadly one-fifth (22%) of all in-house legal teams use ​Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs) for ​services that law firms would traditionally offer. This ​rises to 24% for large organizations of over 5,000 ​employees. Public companies are more likely than ​private companies to use ALSPs. The global figure ​varies regionally by a few percentage-points and is ​highest in Asia-Pacific, where a quarter of companies ​use ALSPs.

E-discovery is outsourced by just under one in ten ​legal departments in public companies, rising to over ​17% in private companies. It’s most prevalent in North ​America, with one in five companies outsourcing, and ​least likely in Asia-Pacific (8%).

By contrast, translation services are more likely to be ​used by companies in Asia-Pacific and Middle East & ​Africa regions than in Europe and North America.

The most popular destinations for outsourcing legal ​department work are India, Philippines, Singapore, ​Netherlands, Canada and South Africa.

Percentage of Legal Departments Using

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69% of organizations globally cite innovation as a ​priority for legal and regulatory risk management. The ​majority is most emphatic in the private held ​companies. Here, 70% prioritize innovation compared ​to around two-thirds of public companies.

Among private companies there are also significant ​regional differences. Almost three-quarters of ​companies across Europe (74%), Asia-Pacific (73%) ​and Middle East & Africa (71%) give innovation as ​priority. In North America the figure drops to 61%.

Artificial intelligence & Generative AI are clearly ​viewed as the primary areas of focus by an overall ​44% of companies globally. This is effectively double ​the next most-rated innovation area, Contract ​Management. Digitalisation (becoming paperless) is ​the third most prevalent subject, prioritized by broadly ​1-in-8 companies across sectors and regions. In North ​America, 11% of respondents also mention document ​and process management.

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of global legal departments ​cite investment in technology

as a priority


Investment in technology is highly prominent in legal ​spending plans, with 68% of organizations citing ​investment in technology as a priority and 62% of ​organizations expecting an increase in investment in ​technology, against just 6% that expect to reduce their ​investment. Privately owned companies in particular ​are focused on this area. Almost three-quarters (73%) ​say that investment in legal department technology is ​a priority.

There is also a marked difference between the level ​of priority given in the Latin America, Middle East & ​Africa and Asia-Pacific regions (80%, 76% and 73% ​respectively), compared to Europe (67%) and North ​America (61%).

Regional Differences Among Companies when ​Prioritising Legal Department Innovation

Most investment growth is expected to be in four ​technology areas, broadly consistent across ​geographies and between public and private ​companies. Data privacy & security management is ​generally the highest priority, along with document ​management, contract lifecycle management and ​contract automation. The vast majority of legal ​departments (over 80%) will continue investing in ​these areas – and most investment growth is focused ​within these areas.

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of global legal departments ​cite innovation as a priority for ​legal and regulatory risk ​management

Workflow management, e-signatures, and Legal ​research/precedent databases can also expect to see ​more growth than decline in technology investment. ​Investment levels among private companies will be ​notably higher than in public companies, by roughly ​10 percentage points.

Latin America and the Middle East & Africa region ​expects the highest levels of legal department ​technology investment growth. The main priorities are ​legal research/precedent databases, and data privacy ​& security management. Workflow management, ​document management and contract automation ​technologies also feature prominently.

Asia-Pacific will also focus on specific technologies ​such as workflow management and e-signatures, in ​addition to the four main areas. Investment by North ​American and European companies also appears to ​be more distributed across various technologies.

Number of Organizations Expecting to Invest More ​in These Technologies



Data privacy & security ​management

Contract lifecycle ​management