In global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright’s 2018 Litigation Trends Annual Survey, corporate counsel respondents stated a decrease in the number of lawsuits commenced against their companies over the last year, but they faced more regulatory proceedings and arbitrations in navigating increased cyber risk, data protection and tax issues.
The survey also found that the growing international nature of many business operations has caused a spike in conflicts related to countries’ differing discovery and data protection laws and regulations.
More than half of the legal departments surveyed — 11 percent more than last year — reported they are increasingly forced to balance one jurisdiction’s discovery obligations with another’s data protection regulations.
Gerry Pecht, Norton Rose Fulbright’s Global Head of Dispute Resolution and Litigation, said:
“Our report examines potential pitfalls for international companies around balancing cross-border discovery requirements and privacy regulation along with sensitive issues, such as facilitating payments. We also provide tips about utilizing some of the legal technologies available and managing the field of disputes. Additionally, we build on the survey’s Litigation Minimization Framework with a special focus on cybersecurity and data protection.”
This marks the 14th edition of Litigation Trends Annual Survey, which polled 365 corporate counsel — primarily general counsel — representing US-based organizations on disputes-related issues and concerns.
An expansive report detailing the survey’s findings are available at litigationtrends.com. Highlights of the report include:
- The overall volume of lawsuits was slightly down, corresponding with a drop in the level of spending on legal matters.
- More than a quarter of businesses surveyed anticipate the volume of disputes will increase over the next year, driven mostly by expansion. The technology and life sciences/healthcare industry sectors are expected to see the biggest increase.
- Arbitrations are slightly up overall, and more clients say they prefer arbitration over litigation for international disputes.
- The use of alternative fee arrangements (AFA) rose only two percent, even though more than a third of corporate counsel in last year’s survey anticipated that they would be relying on AFA increasingly.
- Many companies are adopting legal technology, with data repositories (76 percent of companies), document preservation tools (72 percent) and technology-assisted review (54 percent), which were each also deemed as most useful.
- Most legal departments rely on technology to tackle key processes in an efficient manner. A substantially smaller number are leveraging technological solutions to enhance overall departmental effectiveness; those who have implemented such technology report significant benefits. Technology-enabled project management helps avoid a host of issues that could divert attention from core litigation issues.
- Two-thirds of respondents across all industries report feeling more exposed to cybersecurity and data protection disputes in 2018. Investment in this area is needed, as it seems unlikely that the risk will reduce in the short-to medium term.
- Less than half of responding organizations have tried embedding lawyers within business operations, despite feedback indicating it is the most effective way to reduce the volume of litigation. Providing training is the most popular preventative measure and an effective one.
Introduced in 2004, this report is the longest-running survey of corporate counsel on litigation issues and trends. The 14th edition of Norton Rose Fulbright’s Litigation Trends Annual Survey was conducted by Acritas, a global legal services research firm.