With 22 years as a general counsel soon coming to a close, I felt that this was an appropriate time to speculate on the future of the in-house legal department. Through the past 22 years, much has changed for in-house lawyers and the clients they serve. Some of the main areas that will challenge in-house departments in the short- and long-term are:
Ethics. The future of the legal department is, first and foremost, dependent on the success or failure of the business it serves. With the Great Recession transforming into a rather lackluster recovery, businesses—particularly those that are publicly traded—try to perform according to the stock market’s expectations. The economic viability of any company seems to be tied to short-term gains or losses, rather than its long-term development.