Wolters Kluwer: 88% of lawyers have an important role in ESG

According to Wolters Kluwer Legal Software’s latest survey, in collaboration with The Lawyer, comprising a panel of over one hundred legal departments, 88% of corporate legal professionals believe they play an important role in implementing their business’s ESG strategy, a clear indicator that the legal department is at the forefront of the ESG strategy. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria are factors that investors are increasingly taking into account when making risk management decisions.

As a general rule, the tasks related to the implementation of the ESG strategy fall on the legal counsel, who plays an important role in helping business leaders understand the risks and opportunities inherent in the ESG strategy by clearly communicating how ESG risks are identified and prioritised. With this, it may be easy to see how the workload in legal departments will increase. Indeed, 99% of professionals expect this to be the case in three years’ time, according to a study by EY. According to the Wolters Kluwer Legal Software report, in addition to their regular duties, professionals in legal departments have these new responsibilities, which is leading to an acceleration of the digitisation of departments that has already begun with Covid.

It is impossible to ignore the relationship between ESG criteria and the digitalisation path taken by legal departments. In fact, 78% of professionals say that digitised corporate legal departments have an advantage when it comes to managing ESG projects over those that are not.

Giulietta Lemmi, CEO of Wolters Kluwer Legal Software, confirms: “It is proven that corporate legal departments with a higher level of digital maturity are better equipped to deal with all the procedural changes dictated by ESG regulations”.ù

Thanks to the acceleration of digitisation projects, legal departments have been able to identify (64%) and undertake (44%) additional digitalisation projects.

As the ESG activities for which legal departments are responsible increase, it is natural for legal departments to turn to technology. According to Wolters Kluwer Legal Software’s Future Ready Lawyer Report 2021, 57% of legal departments expect their investment in technology to increase over the next three years, up from 51% in 2020.

Technology plays a key role in setting ESG objectives and is a key consideration in the digital transformation of a business. Integrating digital platforms and processes can give an organisation a significant competitive advantage, as well as implying a clear commitment to ESG criteria and helping the legal department to better manage larger workloads.