Acritas is delighted to have worked with Proskauer in executing their report Delivering Value in Labor and Employment Law. Released today, the comprehensive research among over 100 in-house decision makers is aimed to better understand how labor and employment matters are managed and to identify trends to help in-house counsel increase the value they provide to their business partners and more effectively partner with outside counsel on labor and employment matters. The research findings are summarized in their report released here on their official website.
Highlights from the Delivering Value in Labor and Employment Law survey include:
Companies evaluate in-house counsel by qualities that shape relationships. Three of the four most important criteria used to measure the in-house legal team focus on their relationship with their business partners. In-house counsel need to be available, responsive and proactive and use their judgment and knowledge of the business to provide legal acumen on matters. Many of the least valued qualities focused on cost or spend. The exception was ‘adherence to budget,’ which relates to spend predictability and tied with relationship with other business units as the second most important criterion.
Outside legal spend expected to increase. One of the study’s most surprising findings: 23% percent of respondents said they expected to increase their spending on labor and employment matters. Why? More disputes (including class actions), the changing regulatory environment, more eDiscovery and ambitious company growth strategies.
74% of litigation is handled by outside counsel. Responsiveness is key. 65% of those surveyed indicated that responsiveness is the most important criterion when selecting outside litigation counsel. Availability and having strong relationships with the in-house team are also important. For class actions, specialist expertise and a proven track record must also be demonstrated.
Managing risk demands close coordination between in-house counsel and HR. When asked the top two ways they are advised of labor or employment disputes, 88% of respondents said that hearing directly from their human resources department was a top likelihood, followed by 43% who reported receiving a letter from a claimant’s lawyer.
Only 19% of those surveyed said they have a formal process for assessing the risk profile of a dispute. Bigger companies don’t mess around, however – 44% of companies with more than 10,000 employees reported having a formal risk assessment process. Potential economic exposure, workplace disruption, setting bad precedent and public relations/reputational concerns are among the top criteria used to assess risk.
Arbitration isn’t universal – and its impact is hard to gauge. Only 30% of those surveyed have arbitration agreements in place, and only 14% require such agreements for all employees. Half of respondents with arbitration agreements felt they reduced litigation, but a full 37% were not sure if it did. And when it comes to savings, only 35% were confident that arbitration reduced their spend.
You can read the full report and summary on the Prosakuer website by following this link.