Maintaining electronic records key for legal firms

Friday, 12 March, 2010

According to Deloitte’s 3rd Annual Corporate Counsel Survey, 'Do corporate counsel hold all the cards?', released today, regulatory compliance and meeting regulator requests for electronic records remain key challenges to the Australian legal corporate counsel.

According to Nicholas Adamo, Deloitte Forensic Partner, 82% of respondents reported an increase in regulatory activity in the past year, with the most common form of regulatory activity reported being the service of subpoenas seeking document production.

“There has been a proliferation of the use of email and other electronic forms of communication in the past five years,” said Adamo. “This increase has posed particular challenges for corporate counsel and the organisation to which they belong.

“Well over half (59%) of respondents to the survey have been required to produce electronic documents for regulators in the past year, however, 47% of respondents were not confident that they could produce all relevant electronic records in response to a legal or regulatory request.”

Respondents to the survey indicated that the most significant challenge faced was the volume of electronic records. “Gaining the cooperation of business units to access electronic records is vital, and the creation of policies for the management and retention of electronic records have helped considerably,” said Adamo.

Survey respondents indicated that the number of organisations that have policies for the management and retention of electronic records has increased considerably, from 53% five years ago to 86% today.

Other key findings of the survey

  • Key risk priorities: The three key risk priorities of corporate counsel are maintaining regulatory compliance, preserving legal professional privilege and handling, managing and retaining electronic records.
  • Roles: 63% of the 200 respondents to the survey indicated they are now members of their organisation's senior management or executive team, compared to 40% five years ago as estimated by the current respondents.
  • Dispute resolution: 82% of respondents to the survey indicated that their organisation’s disputes are resolved by negotiated settlement. Respondents to the 2010 survey believed that five years ago, this figure was 74%.
  • Outsourcing: 59% of respondents indicated that the percentage of legal work outsourced to an external law firm has decreased in the past five years. The top three reasons for outsourcing legal work have not changed over the past five years and are: the need for greater specialist expertise, the need for additional legal resources or the complexity of the legal work.


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