Lawyers now expected to give commercial and legal advice

LAWYERS are increasingly being called on to make commercial decisions because of the growing tide of regulations, a new study reveals.

A report from KPMG, out today, shows the views of 320 in-house general counsel in 32 countries on issues including relationships with the board, the risk of regulatory challenges and managing future disputes.

It found that although just over a third (38 per cent) sit on the main board, 70 per cent agreed that giving commercial advice to the board was now just as important as giving legal advice.

Ninety per cent said the increase in volume and complexity of regulations was the greatest risk to organisations over the next five years.

While more than half (51 per cent) of general counsel expected the number of disputes to rise in the next five years, 83 per cent those working in the hi-tech sector forecasted an increase.

The report, conducted by research agency Meridien West, found that two thirds of general counsel are more involved in business decisions than they were five years ago. However 80 per cent felt their involvement could reduce the number of disputes and regulatory issues faced by the company they work for.

KPMG’s Kathryn Britten said: “General counsel are increasingly being required to act as the barometer for their organisations, gauging the pressure and helping to scan the horizon for future threats.”