The standard view of a general counsel is lawyer first, businessman second. According to one recent study, however, that line between legal and business is much more blurred than many would like to believe.

TerraLex, a leading international legal network, just released a study of general counsel at 270 corporations, analyzing their top concerns and how they find and manage outside counsel.

According to the study, 50 percent of respondents claimed that they would categorize their job function as a “stakeholder in business decisions.” Less than a third of respondents, meanwhile, would categorize their job as “managing the legal department.”  In addition, 34 percent of GCs claimed the greatest concern in their position is a “desire to create value for the company.” Only worries over regulation and compliance, ranked as a higher priority at 57 percent.

These overwhelmingly pro-business responses show that the legal arm of many corporations is not a separate entity, but rather a key piece of the company that has similar goals to even the business side of the corporation.

However, companies may not see the legal department the same way, as they are not including GCs in overall decision making as much as the legal leaders wish. The survey says more than 20 percent of respondents would like to become members of the company’s board of directors. Fewer than 9 percent, though, actually hold that position within the company.

Some other key numbers from the survey include:

  • 85 percent find outside law firms from direct referrals
  • 33 percent perform research online to find firms
  • 28 percent make use of  online auctions in farming out work
  • 80 percent are involved in the company’s cross-border transactions

For more information, TerraLex’s findings can be found online.

And for more facts and figures, check out InsideCounsel’s look into the numbers affecting the legal industry today.