KPMG has been running its Legal Department Benchmarking Survey for more than 14 years and over the course of that journey, we’ve seen many things change – and a lot stay the same.

A cohort of legal futurists predict that the COVID-19 crisis will finally be the catalyst for substantial and permanent change to how legal departments are formed, what work they do, and how they do it. That may well be the case, but how will they change? The 2020 Legal Department Benchmarking Survey may hold some of the clues. Our short version commentary highlights Australian insights from the survey.

This year, the survey attracted responses from companies in over 20 industries. 80 percent of the respondents were headquartered in Europe, and the calibre and range of the respondents provided real insights into universal trends.

Survey participants' primary industry breakdown

Global legal benchmarking survey participants' primary industry diagram

Other includes: aerospace and defence, agriculture, asset management, conglomerate, media and entertainment, mining, metals and natural resources, private equity, and real estate.

Survey participants from each region

Global Legal Benchmarking Survey participants by region infographic

Key findings at a glance

Dual roles

The long debate around centralised versus decentralised teams appears to have settled on 'mixed’, with varying degrees of control. The results show 69 percent of teams adopt a mixed structure to achieve the perceived benefits of having an identifiable and congruent legal function that’s also properly embedded and in tune with the business need.

The contracting problem

A central finding from the survey is that we still have a problem with contracts; we have a problem with creating them and we have a problem with managing them. Looking at where legal teams spend their time, 'contracting' and 'contract law' (including general terms and conditions) is by far the largest drain at a whopping 22.3 percent of resource.


LegalTech adoption numbers are still remarkably low. The most common technology, and the only ones with greater than 50 percent adoption, are communication tools, legal research tools and legal education. Although digitisation of documents and data and analytics are the main areas of interest amongst survey respondents; there’s still relatively few companies that have put that in action.


61 percent of companies do not have a LegalTech budget and of those that do, the average amount is only USD 248,041.


51 percent of respondents cited difficulty in knowing what to invest in and/or lack of knowledge as holding them back.

Download the Short Version Commentary report and the Global Legal Department Benchmarking Survey report for full details.