The Future of Corporate Legal Work


Associate of Corporate Counsel (ACC) released its 2015 ACC Global Census: A Profile of In-House Counsel. More than 5,000 in-house counsel in more than 70 countries participated in the survey, which was designed to "create a demographic portrait of in-house counsel around the world," including:

  • Career history and mobility
  • Corporate climate and culture
  • Incidences and impact of mergers and acquisitions
  • Usage of outside law firms
  • Personal demographic details of individual n-house counsel

The executive key findings hold hints at the future of corporate legal work, and thus for lawyers' career development. Global privacy, cybersecurity, corruption, competition, compliance, and mergers and acquisition (M&A) are among the key legal challenges companies are facing -- those are trending practice areas among in-house counsel in an otherwise tight legal job market. And you'd better have multijurisdictional, cross-border, or multinational experience.

For outside counsel, look to litigation, employment and labor, and privacy issues -- that's where companies are saying they're bringing in outside counsel. But there are opportunities to be had in other practice areas as well:

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And for those lawyers assuming the in-house life has better hours than law firm life, note that the average work week was 49 hours, with 43% saying they work 50 to 59 hours per week, and some reporting more than 60 hours per week. (This trend relates to in-house legal spend going up, but the work staying in-house rather than going to law firms.

Note to employers: lawyers are less loyal than they used to be. (Of course, employers are also less loyal than they used to be.) Sixty-four percent of your lawyers would walk to another company if the career opportunity was right.

Whether you're currently an in-house attorney or you're hoping to be one, the full study is worth a read. The chart of trending practice areas and the chart of trending industries are goldmines of personal branding and career development information for lawyers. Those are areas of law you definitely want to build experience in so that you can get it on your legal resume!