With great power comes great responsibility, and general counsel are gaining both, according to professional services firm KPMG’s first Global General Counsel Survey. Many of the 320 GCs surveyed have seen their roles evolve in an era of data breaches, regulatory reforms and corruption concerns.

According to the survey, the line between legal and business advice continues to blur, as general counsel are often expected to “advise [companies] proactively on their business horizons.” To that end, most respondents reported having a close relationship with their company’s board: 81 percent of GCs either report directly to board members or have a seat on the board themselves.

The survey did note that only 67 percent of respondents reported being more involved with their organization’s business strategy now than they were five years ago, even though 79 percent said that involving GCs in the commercial decision-making process can reduce risk and improve corporate performance.

Unsurprisingly in the era of record-breaking criminal penalties and fines, general counsel project that the volume and complexity of regulation (46 percent) will be their biggest business concerns over the next five years, followed by data security and protection (40 percent) and compliance with differing regulatory regimes around the globe (40 percent). Specifically, respondents are concerned about regulations governing competition, consumer protection and corruption.

In an effort to mitigate these risks, nearly 70 percent of GCs responding to the survey said that they are training their legal teams on legislative developments. Other leading risk management techniques include seeking expert advice about the impact of new technologies and implementing processes to ensure compliance with new regulations.

Read the full survey here.

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