November 9, 2020

European corporate legal departments identify efficiency and effectiveness as strategic priorities through COVID-19

Legal teams aim towards mitigating risk, managing budgets, and technology innovation in order to remain competitive with their global peers

LONDON, November 9, 2020 – Thomson Reuters has announced the release of the 2020 State of the European Corporate Legal Departments report.

With the business world constantly evolving, new risks and regulations around sustainability, privacy, data, and geopolitics all bring new challenges and pressures on in-house legal teams. In responding to these challenges, as well as the unprecedented disruption caused by COVID-19, in-house legal departments across Europe have named efficiency, effectiveness, and safeguarding as strategic priorities for their organizations.

Acritas, part of Thomson Reuters, is the world’s leading provider of global legal market intelligence. Their extensive research within the 2020 State of European Corporate Legal Departments report looks at several trends that all corporate legal departments should pay attention to in the European market. For example, many European legal departments are seeking to improve commerciality and service levels, as well as increasing their focus on automation.

The report details how efficiency is not just about cost control, but also considers innovation, modernisation, and technology with a focus on automation, to make work easier for legal departments. For European chief legal officers, effectiveness means supporting the strategic goals of their company and eliminating barriers to progress—being a quick, agile, practically-minded business partner. These advantages inevitably contribute to improved service levels and commercial viability so that in-house legal departments can become strategic advisors to their organisations.

“Although safeguarding the business has tended to rank third on the list of strategic priorities for corporate legal departments, it has very much moved to the forefront in 2020. In the current climate, legal departments are taking additional steps to mitigate risk, looking to minimize potential disputes that may arise from all of the different impacts of the pandemic,” said Lisa Hart Shepherd, Vice President of Research Strategy, and Founder of Acritas, part of Thomson Reuters. “At the same time, legal departments are facing budgetary constraints and heightened demand from their organizations, so the drive for efficiency and effectiveness remain ever-present priorities.”

The report highlights how European legal departments can learn from each other and from their global peers, with three pillars standing out:

  • Investing in technology, using data output to better arm in-house legal departments with insights around how they add value to their wider organizations, shifting focus away from the department as a cost centre, to that of a strategic advisor;
  • Collaborating with other functions across the business, to take a multidisciplinary approach to providing professional services, helping drive efficiency while maintaining the focus on core business agendas; and,
  • Reviewing legal service providers, in particular across borders and recognising the role of alternative legal service providers (ALSPs), to bring a diversity of expertise to legal departments—i.e., international or specialized experience, and an integrated approach to delivering professional services.

The European Corporate Legal Departments report drew upon 578 interviews conducted within Europe. The research period took place before the start of COVID-19; however, the interviews have continued throughout 2020 and a review of the latest intelligence from corporate legal departments has been undertaken to ensure the insights shared within the report are still reflective of current market conditions.

You can download and read the full 2020 State of the European Corporate Legal Departments report here.


Thomson Reuters is a leading provider of business information services. Out products include highly specialized information-enabled software and tools for legal, tax, accounting and compliance professionals combined with the world’s most global news service—Reuters. For more information on Thomson Reuters, visit,, and for the latest world news,


Denise Lam
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