The General Counsel Sustainability Study – Center on the Legal Profession and EY Law

In early 2022, EY Law and the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession surveyed 1,000 General Counsel and Chief Legal Officers from businesses representing 12 industries across 20 countries to take a closer look at the role of the law department in sustainability. Key findings reveal that law departments are facing a broad set of pressures from stakeholders on sustainability matters that are challenging them in new ways, further complicated by often ambiguous guidance from regulators and competing goals within the business itself. Read the report for critical answers and actions law department leaders can take.

The General Counsel Imperative – Center on the Legal Profession and EY Law

In 2021, EY Law and the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession interviewed more than 2,000 General Counsel and leaders from procurement, commercial contracting and business development located in 22 countries. These interviews took place in early 2021 and covered a wide range of topics relating to contract creation and management, law department operations and legal entity management. When put together with the EY CEO Imperative study, conducted during this same period, these surveys provide an expansive and up-to-date 360 degree view of legal and contracting teams and their pivotal roles in achieving business success in the post-COVID-19 economy.

Read the Reports:

(Download the reports here, here, and here.)

Careers and Diversity

For the past 20 years, the Center has been engaged in a series of projects aimed at understanding the nature of professional careers, with a particular focus on gender, race, and other diversity-related issues. This research, which includes a series of large scale surveys, has resulted in several widely cited reports, The Women and Men of Harvard Law School and The State of Black Alumni.


This project is a joint collaboration between leading thinkers from multiple sides of the legal profession: Professor David B. Wilkins (Harvard Law School), Mr. Benjamin Heineman, Jr. (CLP Distinguished Senior Fellow and former General Counsel of General Electric) and Mr. William Lee (Partner, WilmerHale). The essay lays out their vision of lawyers as professionals and citizens in the 21st century. In the coming months, we will solicit comments from leading legal professionals about the ideas expressed in this essay to be published on this website.

Corporate Purchasing Project: How S&P Companies Evaluate Outside Counsel

This Report marks the culmination of the Center on the Legal Profession’s Corporate Purchasing Project—more than four years of scholarly research dedicated to examination of the ways in which S&P 500 legal departments hire and manage outside counsel, drawing from six academic papers. How are relationships between clients and service providers in the corporate legal market evolving, and why? Answering this critically important question requires both the availability of unbiased quantitative information about how large corporations make law firm hiring and assessment decisions and a robust qualitative and theoretical framework to evaluate broader variations and trends. This novel empirical data is drawn from surveys and interviews of 166 chief legal officers (“CLOs”) of S&P 500 companies—one-third of all such large publicly traded companies.


Smart Collaboration

“Implementing Smart Collaboration” Paper Series

This white paper series lays out a research-based, practical approach for law firms to turn their collaboration strategy into a living, breathing part of daily life.  Given most firms’ culture of high autonomy and decentralization, leaders need to drive it both from the top-down and bottom-up.  Implementing Smart Collaboration requires a clear-eyed view of the current state of collaboration, and then targeted approaches to strategy implementation.

Download Part I – Building the Case for Change

  • In this paper, Part 1 of the series, Heidi K. Gardner, PhD and Ivan Matviak outline the diagnostic phase which helps identify current collaboration barriers and bright-spots, and provides guide-posts for future areas of focus.  Galvanizing the organization around collaboration requires a bottom-up ground swell of support.

Download Part 2 – Optimizing Individuals’ and Leaders’ Collaborative Behaviors

  • In Part 2 of this series will show how to equip lawyers (and potentially others in the firm) with the capabilities to turn their natural ways of working into strengths that improve collaboration.  Part 2 will also show how to improve leaders’ understanding of their group dynamics so that they are better able to manage, direct, and motivate their teams (such as practice groups or key account teams).

Download Part 3 – Identifying and Prioritizing Client Opportunities

  • In Part 3 of this series, we discuss tech-enabled ways to analyze, identify and prioritize collaborative growth opportunities, along with ways to create accountability for execution. Even with the right targets, research shows that many partners lack the skills and confidence to pursue complex client opportunities which require cross-silo collaboration.

Download The Power of Collaboration for In-House Lawyers, CLP Distinguished Research Fellow Heidi Gardner, PhD

  • Collaboration isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a business necessity. As the legal, business, technological and regulatory environment changes more and more quickly, lawyers need to specialize equally quickly in order to stay at the cutting edge of knowledge in their domain. One-dimensional legal problems have swelled into multi-faceted, goliath-sized business problems that span departments, disciplines, and geographies. As one general counsel put it, “I don’t have legal problems. I have ‘problem’ problems.” The complexity of today’s problems call for those specialists to collaborate across disciplinary and organizational boundaries to tackle those sophisticated issues. In-house legal departments are grappling with the clashing together of two trends: the specialization of expertise and increasingly complexity of business problems. The tension between the two trends is what produces the need for smart collaboration.

Download The Collaboration Imperative for Today’s Law Firms: Leading High-Performance Teamwork for Maximum Benefit

  • And catch up on Dr. Gardner’s ongoing work into collaboration in law firms. Why is it often so difficult to get law partners to collaborate and cross-sell? What are the benefits to the partner(s) What are the benefits to the firm? To the client? How can firm leaders foster more productive and effective collaboration? Dr. Gardner has conducted an empirical analysis of data including timesheets and financial records of two global law firms (over a ten-year period) and has interviewed 100’s of top legal professionals. Her results point to the power of collaboration – in both the best and worst of times.


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