In 2010 our very first GC Report introduced the concept of a Value Pyramid for the in-house legal function. This divides tasks into four levels, according to the perceived value they provide to the business.
Level One of the pyramid involves tasks with the greatest perceived strategic value. The tasks in Level Four, while essential, are felt to be day-to-day work.
Our discussions with GCs in other regions have strongly supported the validity of the model. The same seems to be true in Latin America, with the position that GCs believe they have in the pyramid being broadly reflective of the perceptions of their role and status that we explore elsewhere in this report.
The pyramid data suggest that the Latin American GCs have been quite successful at removing themselves from day-to-day tasks, focusing instead on important roles in, for example, crisis management and the negotiation of significant deals.
Some of the GCs we have spoken to while writing this report have questioned whether this overstates the true position: however, it is the assessment of the GCs we surveyed. Some have also suggested that the results may reflect the general esteem in which legal professionals are held in Latin America.
Other possible explanations for the high scores include the development of robust and supportive in-house legal teams, and the outsourcing of mundane tasks to lawyers in private practice or, indeed, to alternative legal service providers. But whatever the explanation for the results, they clearly show that Latin American GCs believe strongly that they are able to operate across and add value in the more strategic functions required by their businesses.