The Rule of Corporate Counsel
Jon Downes, General Counsel and Company Secretary, Ace Group, Australia
Australia has seen a significant growth in the number of corporate counsel over the last 20 years. Companies continue to recognise the value of cultivating legal expertise internally, from better protecting company interests to more effective utilisation of legal services. Major corporates are attracting senior lawyers from top tier law firms, with in-house legal teams developing into experienced and valuable legal resources.
With this wealth of in-house legal talent, there has been an increase in the sophistication of corporate counsel – with a changing environment which includes more aggressive use of legal process outsourcing (LPO) providers and effective use and management of external law firms. With this evolution, corporate counsel are having greater influence over the affairs and thinking of the companies they work for.
As corporate counsel demonstrate their value, corporations’ expectations ever increase. This impacts the role of corporate counsel – the breadth of role being stretched to encompass company secretarial, risk and compliance. With a dramatic increase in regulation over the last decade, together with significant global events impacting on Australia, highlight the risks corporate counsel face.
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