Key Insights from the Corporate Counsel Summit 2024

Key Insights from the Corporate Counsel Summit 2024

May 20, 2024

The 2024 Corporate Counsel Summit, hosted by Lawyers Weekly on May 2, brought together 350+ professionals from the Australian in-house legal community for a day of learning and networking. TransPerfect Legal’s Tom Balmer (Director, APAC) and Kapilan Rasiah (Director in Melbourne) were there to share their expertise and hear a few war stories. 

For those who missed out, they’ve kindly recapped the day’s key takeaways:

GC 2030 – Unveiling the Evolution of In-House Counsel

Mel Storey, Head of Legal at Pax8, kicked things off by eloquently highlighting a key theme of the summit—in-house teams are expected to ‘Do more with less while change is the new constant’.

When looking at the GC of 2030, her key takeaways were the need to be:

  • More human – Provide leadership, empathy, community and mentorship across the business and make the most of your seat at the table. Become a true Counsel to the business and don’t just provide risk-averse advice.
  • Less human – With fewer resources, technology will be a non-negotiable to increase efficiency. This could be AI, contract management tools or simply engaging external vendors to reduce legal spend.

Harnessing Generative AI: A Year of Ethical Insights, Breakthroughs and Practical Applications

One of the most eagerly awaited panels of the day was the discussion on generative AI—its impact on in-house legal teams, ethics and privacy.

Adoption is relatively low (60% of in-house and 45% of law firm lawyers have used it), and a comparison was made to the early days of the search engine—no one knew how to use it, but with time (and practice), it became second nature.

The panellists provided some advice for everyone when learning how to use GenAI:

  • Start small – Use it like a search engine—play around; be curious.
  • Learn about prompt engineering – Crafting the ideal prompts will ensure the engine is set up for success. This skill will be critical to lawyers in the future.
  • Be aware of hallucinations – The systems are prone to hallucinations (making things up), so always ask for the sources it has referenced and verify everything before using the outputs.
  • Keep it confidential – Whatever you input is used to train the engine further, so avoid personal, proprietary or confidential information.

Additional AI-related questions were presented to the panellists—key takeaways were:

  • Regulatory change – The Australian government released an interim report on the regulation of AI earlier this year. Panellists agreed there is work to be done—global regulators are leading the way, with the EU currently taking the most comprehensive approach.
  • ESG considerations – The larger the AI engine, the more processing power and resources it will need to operate, which raises big concerns around energy use and environmental impact. The panellists posited that AI itself could be the answer—a custom engine to manage energy usage and other ESG considerations.
  • IP ownership – Most current AI models have been trained on publicly available, often copyrighted data, which presents a legal dilemma for output usage. This has led to litigation cases and an uncertain future for AI—with the importance of regulation being raised again.

The panellists’ top use cases for AI were:

  • Summarising data and drafting documents
  • Structuring ideas and drafting emails
  • Learning more about various topics and having fun

The session was one of the day’s best, and the audience was left with hope for the enormous potential but also caution given the many unknowns and lack of regulation.

Global Insights for Local Impact

Panellists from BT, Tokio Marine and Google provided insights from their experiences working within global legal teams, providing four key pieces of advice:

  • Be consistent – Continuously align with the global vision, communicate and share information to stay consistent across global markets.
  • Understand your stakeholders – Build strong relationships with them and be curious about their role to make global decision-making much easier.
  • Adapt – It is important to adapt to local culture/customs and remove linguistic barriers for effective communication.
  • See it through – Ensure you see a project through from start to finish to show what you are capable of and how you work. The more projects you complete, the more stakeholders you interact with and the more trust is built, making future collaboration much easier.

Mastering Contract Management

In light of the recent changes around unfair contract terms, the panel discussed how to ensure contracts are ethically and legally sound, and how tech can help in this area.

Some key takeaways on how to successfully adapt to the changes:

  • Understand the current state – Conduct an internal audit to identify contracts that need changing.
  • Assess priorities – Assess contracts based on deal and job size to prioritise the most important/highest revenue/highest risk areas of the business.
  • Understand the ‘why’ – If you can understand the motivation of all parties in the contract, you’ll see fewer disputes and a simpler process with less risk of unfair terms.
  • Discuss with stakeholders – Discussing changes and bringing internal stakeholders along for the journey is the best way to gain buy-in and understanding from the wider business.
  • Use technology – Set up a self-service portal for the broader business with instructional videos, articles and FAQ legal guidance on basic contracts and simple repeat jobs.

Strategic Planning, Pricing and Cost Management

Thomson Reuters’ 2023 legal department operations index report noted that controlling outside counsel costs was a top priority for in-house teams. Striking the right balance between outsourcing and handling work internally is a challenge, and the panellists for this session provided the following advice:

  • Data is key – Gather data on the volume, type and value of work. This is easier to do with the right tech that enables you to assign priorities and establish an overflow structure.
  • Sometimes, say ‘no’ – Having the right data helps to substantiate why you need to say no, hire additional headcount, or use the overflow structure.
  • Use value-based pricing – Ensure cost certainty and encourage outside counsel to create an efficient and valuable solution. Again, the data you gather will help tremendously.

Preparing Your Business for Litigation

With economic downturns come an increasingly litigious climate and enhanced regulatory scrutiny. The panellists provided some key tips on how to prepare for litigation:

  • Have robust dispute clauses – Ensure all agreements have comprehensive, staggered dispute resolution clauses that call for mediation/resolution prior to litigation.
  • Know your experts – Ensure you have trusted and vetted external resources in place so you know where to turn if things go south.
  • Get your data ducks in a row – Understand your systems and where employees save content and communicate—document this, and clean it up. Good information governance will help reduce litigation costs, make privacy compliance easier and reduce cyber risk.

Tom Balmer provided further insight into this last point in an article with Lawyers Weekly—reach out to the TransPerfect team if you’d like to learn more about how we can help reduce the cost of disputes.

Navigating Privacy Reforms and Cybersecurity

With imminent reforms to the Australian privacy regime on the horizon, and as the digital and cybersecurity threat landscape continues to evolve, panellists provided war stories and advice from the trenches to ensure legal professionals remain informed, proactive and adaptive.

  • Upskill cyber – Take some basic training and ensure you understand the lexicon of cybersecurity to emphasise your authority and increase trust.
  • Know your CISO – Take them out for coffee, get to know them, and learn the company’s security posture. Security by design is key to lowering cyber risk.
  • Create a playbook – Document exactly what steps to follow in case of a breach or cyberattack. Plan and ensure all stakeholders have roles that are clearly laid out.
  • Practice your playbook – Practice how you’d respond to a potential breach to help avoid the many unknowns.
  • Plan data check-ups –regularly create / review data maps and understand your risk profile. This is vital if a breach occurs and also shows you took reasonable steps to protect your data—as directors will be liable.

Navigating Team Dynamics and Strategic Growth in Legal Departments

Legal department budgets are being cut and workloads are increasing, meaning team management and growth will form a key pillar in the success of in-house legal teams.

  • Develop a skills matrix – This helps assess candidates and provides visibility on skill gaps, so team members know where to upskill and when you may need to look externally.
  • Stay connected – Especially with teams typically divided by skills/practice groups, ensuring everyone stays connected and highlighting wins is key to maintaining talent and building confidence.
  • Be data-driven – Establish what work can be handled in-house and what the cost-benefit analysis would be for hiring someone versus outsourcing.

Rediscovering Australian Values

The summit was brought to a close by an inspiring keynote from former Socceroo Craig Foster, who has since become a fierce advocate for human rights.

Craig walked through a few key topics, all accompanied by powerful stories from his experiences:

  • Violence against women – He raised the issue that in 2024 so far, 27 women have lost their lives to gendered violence (one every four days).
  • The Matildas – He discussed how their success at the World Cup didn’t happen overnight and how their perseverance helped change women’s sports across Australia and the world.
  • Supporting marginalised Australians – Craig also touched on his work with refugees and other marginalised communities in Australia.

He emphasised how Australia is a fantastically multicultural country and the importance to teams and businesses that we all do our part to understand and offer support for the issues facing various communities.


It was a packed day of sessions with some fantastic networking opportunities. Key themes like AI, cybersecurity and workload management were prevalent across all sessions, with panellists from different industries, roles and backgrounds sharing valuable insights to ensure maximum benefit to all in attendance.

If you’d like to understand more about how TransPerfect Legal can help your team do more with less through our various technology solutions, reach out to the local team at

Blog Info
By: Tom Balmer, Director, APAC and Kapilan Rasiah, Director in Melbourne