How will corporate law departments set themselves up for success in 2023? In partnership with ACEDS, IPRO surveyed 126 corporate law professionals to explore their perceptions on the key challenges their departments are likely to face in 2023, the expectations and priorities they set for this year, and how they see technology and outside counsel supporting their teams in achieving the set goals.
Corporate law departments have experienced a turbulent few years, defined by exponential growth in corporate data volumes and a volatile macroeconomic environment.
While experts’ predictions for what 2023 holds for the eDiscovery industry vary, they seem to converge on the idea that this year will challenge legal teams to offer more to their clients, with the same or even less resources than in 2022.
That said, here are the top six learnings from this report on where corporate legal teams’ priorities and goals lie in 2023.
Meeting deadlines to become more difficult in 2023
Budget and improving internal efficiency will be the biggest challenges
Increasing the use of technology will be the #1 priority
Corporate law departments are looking to outsource less in 2023
Internal investigations represent the main practice area for eDiscovery technology application
Overcollection of data is an increasing pain point for corporate law professionals
1. Corporate law professionals expect meeting deadlines to become more difficult in 2023
Besides the sheer volume of data that is being created by organizations, the work of legal teams is additionally challenged by the growing complexity and nature of that data.
Considering this, it is rather unsurprising that 49% of the survey respondents view ‘meeting deadlines with increasingly more complex data becoming more difficult’ as the trend they agree with the most.
Efficiently managing all of their organizations’ ESI will require legal professionals to find ways to sift through these masses of data to identify relevant data sources and pinpoint important facts and patterns. eDiscovery technology can play a great role in helping corporate lawyers achieve better efficiency; decrease breach-related risks while minimizing the costs related to data governance and eDiscovery.
2. Budget and improving internal efficiency are deemed to impose the biggest challenges in 2023
Speculation about a potential recession has marched throughout 2022. Therefore, many organizations in both Europe and the U.S. have started to prepare for a potential recession already in Q4 of 2022. The Conference Board ‘Measure of CEO Confidence’ found that as many as 98% of surveyed CEOs in the U.S. said they were preparing for a U.S. recession and 99% said they were preparing for an EU recession.
Our survey findings seem to reflect a similar cautionary approach towards an uncertain macroeconomic environment in 2023.
More than half (53%) of surveyed corporate law professionals named ‘budget’ to be the main factor that will impose the biggest challenges on their departments in 2023.
3. The majority of respondents said increasing their use of technology would be their #1 priority for 2023.
Notably, when asked about their key priorities for 2023, 74% of respondents said they aim to increase their use of technology in 2023. This reflects the awareness that exists among corporate law professionals about the importance of adopting modern eDiscovery technology in order to enable legal teams to ride the massive wave of structured and unstructured data that their organizations are generating.
That said, only 36% of survey respondents indicated that they have already adopted AI-powered technology within their or their team’s workflows.
4. Surveyed corporate law departments are looking to outsource less with outside counsel in 2023
With increasing fees charged by external providers as well as tightening budgets corporate law teams will likely deal with in 2023, we see that most of the surveyed professionals are looking to possibly reduce the number of law firms they will work with in 2023.
41% of respondents consider reducing the number of law firms they work with in 2023, while 25% of respondents already planned to do this in 2023.
Though it might seem like bad news for law firms, there are hidden opportunities waiting to be seized in 2023. Law firms that manage to deliver excellent customer service, while maintaining strong and timely communication with their clients are more likely to win over their competition.
5. Internal investigations triggered by an external factor represent the main practice area for eDiscovery technology application
Global security attacks increased by 28% in the third quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, which clearly has caused a global rise in data privacy regulations in 2022, which will likely continue throughout 2023. Similarly, the implementation of whistleblowing laws and policies in jurisdictions around the world resulted in employers spending more time investigating corporate fraud, misconduct, and non-compliance instances.
Therefore, it is no surprise that our survey respondents indicated internal investigations triggered by an external factor as the most common practice area for applying AI-driven eDiscovery technology (chosen by 35% of corporate law practitioners).
That said, 31% of respondents marked ‘data privacy and cyber security regulations’ as the main practice area for AI tech application, followed by 29% who selected ‘internal investigation - triggered by an internal factor, such as compliance program or HR’ as the main use case for their eDiscovery solution.
6. Overcollection of data is an increasing pain point for corporate law professionals
With the rising pressure to cut costs and the concurrent explosion of data volumes, corporate law departments might feel like they are caught between a rock and a hard place. For that reason, limiting / avoiding overcollection altogether becomes more important than ever.
27% of surveyed professionals agreed with the statement that their team over collects data regularly, while 46% are unsure or neutral towards the statement. That said, almost 10% of the audience strongly agreed with it.
When prompted to reflect on the practical measures they would take towards limiting or controlling the overcollection of ESI, 32% of the survey respondents called ‘leveraging technology to facilitate targeted collections’ their primary measure to combat overcollection. More focused EDA lands as the second most popular overcollection measure, selected by 23% of people.
- What are the common data collection practices adopted by corporate law teams? And how can these improve in 2023?
- Which use cases do corporate law professionals use AI-powered eDiscovery technology the most for? And which AI features do they apply most often within their practices?
- What role will technology play in supporting corporate law professionals in 2023?
Access the full report now, link below.