Legal innovation
Legal19 March, 2024

The 2024 Roadmap for Corporate Legal Departments

A Guide to Success Based on the Future Ready Lawyer Report

In the dynamic whirlwind of the global legal space, the fifth edition of the
Wolters Kluwer Future Ready Lawyer Survey 2023 emerges as a guiding lighthouse amidst the storm. 
It steers legal professionals across both law firms and corporate legal departments towards a promising future.
The report unearths
pivotal legal trends and strategic priorities for 2024, serving as an invaluable roadmap for corporate legal departments. With this article, we aim to delve deeper into these crucial trends for 2024.
By highlighting what your legal department should consider, we will help prepare you for the imminent challenges and opportunities that are fast approaching on the horizon.

Key Legal Trends for a Future Ready Legal Department  

The future of corporate legal departments is set to be transformed by key trends including the growing impact of generative AI (GenAI), the increasing reliance on technology, workforce challenges, a growing demand for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) expertise, and the need for improved Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) practices.


  1. Artificial Intelligence
  2. Technology
  3. Workforce challenges
  4. ESG
  5. DEIB practices

Artificial Intelligence , particularly GenAI , is set to revolutionise legal work. Most lawyers believe that it will significantly alter their work processes. According to the Future Ready Lawyer survey, 73% of legal professionals plan to integrate GenAI into their work in 2024.
While nearly half of the surveyed lawyers (43%) view GenAI as an opportunity, a quarter perceive it as a threat, and 26% see it as both.


 FRL 2023_GenAI

Read also → AI: a game-changer for your corporate legal department?

2. Technology continues to be a critical differentiator for higher performance in the legal sector. Legal professionals are increasingly turning to specialised legal tech tools to boost productivity, reduce the risk of client attrition, and manage the volume and complexity of information.
In fact, 87% of lawyers say technology has improved their daily work. However, there is still room for more extensive use of legal tech to meet client needs.


FRL 2023_Technology

Read also → Digital Transformation

3. Workforce challenges are also a significant concern, with 81% of survey respondents highlighting the importance of recruitment and retention over the next three years.
Legal professionals are grappling with the challenge of finding and retaining talent in an industry that increasingly demands a technology-enabled, flexible work environment.


 FRL 2023_Workforce

Read also → The changing balance of power between legal departments and law firms

4. The demand for ESG expert guidance is rapidly growing, posing a significant challenge for corporate legal departments.
Sixty-one percent of these departments report being unprepared to meet expectations in this area. This highlights the need for legal departments to adapt to escalating client expectations for value, transparency, and efficiency.


FRL 2023_ESG

Read also → The role of the legal department in shaping the ESG strategy

5. Finally, the legal sector is striving to improve DEIB practices.
While 82% of legal professionals say their organisations have successfully created a diverse and inclusive environment, 43% of organisations still lack formal DEIB policies.
This discrepancy underscores the need for corporate legal departments to formalise their commitment to diversity and inclusion.



Key considerations for becoming a future ready legal department

As we look towards the future, it is crucial to assess the readiness of your legal department for the challenges and opportunities that the rest of 2024 will bring.
According to industry experts from Europe and the U.S., the transformation of the legal sector is imminent, but the readiness for this change varies significantly across the industry.
The first aspect to consider is the technological transformation in the legal industry.
As noted by Richard Tromans, a legal tech consultant, the industry has yet to witness a true tech transformation. This is largely because many businesses, despite adopting new software tools, have still to tap their full potential due to insufficient staff training and business practices that hinder industry-wide transformation.
Therefore, it is essential to align your business model with technology that can significantly increase the production and delivery speed of billable work.
The legal industry's digitisation rate is another factor to consider.
Valerie Keilhau, a legal tech expert, points out that the legal industry lags behind other sectors in terms of digitisation. The main reason for this is the negative and biased attitude of lawyers towards technological progress.
To future-proof your legal department, it is fundamental to foster a positive attitude towards technology and its potential benefits.
The type of technology that is critical to legal professionals' success also plays a significant role in preparing for the future.
According to Robert Ambrogi, a legal tech journalist, the most crucial technologies are those that support essential tasks, fit within daily workflows, automate mundane tasks, and reduce the need to jump between applications. These include practice management platforms, legal research databases, time-and-billing tools, document automation technologies, and document management platforms.
AI is another type of technology that will continue to significantly impact the legal industry.
Valerie Keilhau predicts that AI, particularly large language models, will be increasingly integrated into software for legal departments.
Therefore, embracing AI and integrating it into your legal department's operations is a key step towards future-proofing.
The increasing importance of ESG factors is another trend that will impact the legal industry.
Iris Wuisman, a legal tech expert, advises considering the type of clients your department serves, how it cares for its workforce, and its impact on the environment.
When developing or choosing technological tools, legal professionals should consider their environmental footprint.
In terms of talent acquisition and retention, Iris Wuisman suggests that it’s important to understand the varying levels of enthusiasm, capability, and skill among legal talents in leveraging technology.
Supporting and challenging talent based on their individual characteristics will enable them to operate within their strengths.
Lastly, the shift towards a hybrid work environment poses a risk to younger professionals' career paths and opportunities.
Janet LeVee suggests that robust mentorship can mitigate this risk. It is essential to incentivise experienced lawyers to mentor and train new and mid-level lawyers, whether in person or via digital experience.


The fifth-anniversary edition of the Wolters Kluwer Future Ready Lawyer Survey finds the legal industry amid unprecedented change, propelled by social and technological trends. Despite the challenges, the legal profession has shown remarkable resilience and adaptability.
This 2024 roadmap for corporate legal departments is marked by both challenges and opportunities. As the legal landscape continues to evolve, the ability to adapt and remain resilient will be key.
In this journey towards becoming future-ready, Legisway can be a game-changer as it offers a comprehensive suite of tools that can help legal departments optimise their processes, manage risk, and enhance compliance.
Its robust features can streamline tasks, automate workflows, and provide valuable insights, thereby overcoming the challenges of an evolving legal landscape.
By embracing new technologies like Legisway, meeting escalating client expectations, and fostering a diverse and inclusive environment, legal departments can not only survive but thrive in this rapidly changing environment. 
Do you want to learn how to navigate these trends and drive transformation in your legal department?

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