Most legal transformation projects fail to meet the expectations of general counsel (GC), according to new research from Gartner, Inc. The research also shows that most projects fail due to a lack of prioritization or insufficient support, both of which the GC can exert direct control over.
In the fall of 2020, Gartner surveyed 200 GCs and legal operations managers to measure their satisfaction with legal transformation outcomes in their departments. Only 49% agreed that the projects met GC expectations for quality, 47% said that the projects were “usually” or “always” completed within budget, and 43% said that the projects met with the overall satisfaction of legal leadership (See Figure 1).
“General counsel typically think of legal transformation projects taking place at the operations level, but to a large extent it’s the GC that determines whether these projects will be successful,” said Stephanie Quaranta, research vice president in the Gartner Legal & Compliance practice. “Too often, GCs send mixed signals about the priority of transformation projects that undermines legal staff’s commitment to them. Examples include borrowing resources from transformation projects to address unexpected, high-urgency work, or simply not pausing to publicly praise these projects in the same way that more standard ‘legal’ work is recognized.”
As a result of COVID-19, 92% of legal departments expect flat or reduced budgets in 2021. Support requests will increase, however, with 65% of GCs anticipating more routine legal work, while 66% expect more mission critical work. To meet rising demand with flat resourcing, GCs must pursue legal transformation projects that increase the efficiency, speed and quality of their work. Examples of such projects include standing up an outside counsel panel, implementing a contract management system or automating a process.