Axiom UK deputy general counsel report finds 100% have seen budget cuts as workloads rise

Global legal services firm Axiom today (14 March) launches a report looking into the pressures facing deputy general counsel (DGC) across the UK’s legal sector, which finds that 100% of DGCs have seen budget cuts as a result of economic uncertainty.

The research was conducted by Wakefield Research, who surveyed 100 UK-based deputy general counsel at companies across a range of different industries with £4bn+ in annual revenue.

Axiom says that while there were 392 surveys on the role of the general counsel last year. But none, that they are aware of, on the DGC, who is fundamental to the ongoing management of the department.

Some of the key findings include:

  • Economic pressures: 100% of UK-based DGCs have seen budget cuts as the result of economic uncertainty.  96% predict a potential hiring freeze is likely due to economic circumstances and 42% report a freeze is very likely or already happening
  • Resourcing issues: 94% say their legal department is under-resourced relative to the complexity of current legal matters and their department does have the right aggregate resources to do its job effectively
  • In terms of what type of resource would make for an effective solution to address the legal department’s resourcing needs:
    • Only 59% of DGCs say law firms
    • Only 54% of DGCs say hiring additional permanent in-house lawyers
    • While 75% of DGCs say flexible talent providers
  • All (100%) of DGCs surveyed report feeling stressed or burnt out in their current role. 66% are open to new positions outside their current employer/role, with 29% actively searching

Speaking to Legal IT Insider, Axiom’s managing director for Europe, Daniel Hayter said: “There are three things I’d take away from this report. The first is the economic pressure that deputy general counsel are under, with 100% saying they have seen budget cuts, and secondly they are also seeing an increase in the volume of work. Then 100% report feel stressed in their current role.

“People are having to work a lot harder to get the same results. I get the impression that people are walking on eggshells.”

He adds: “There are a few factors behind it, including the economy and underinvestment in terms of headcount and on the tech side too. It’s a variety of things and the pandemic has brought up a complex array of issues that we probably thought we’d never face.

“It’s interesting that only 59% of deputy general counsel say they would go to a law firm to address their resourcing needs. There are still a core group that will go to a law firm – it’s a quick and an easy option. Is it the cheapest? Absolutely not.”

You can read the report in full here: