Research by the Law Society of England and Wales has shown that over two-thirds of general counsel now sit on their organisation's board, and over half report to the CEO.
The report on the first part of the GC350 Study shows that in-house legal teams are growing their influence and credibility, says Law Society chief executive Catherine Dixon.
"Demands on in-house legal functions are increasing due to the need to address higher volumes of work with reduced resources and increasingly complex legal and business regulation," she says.
"In this climate, innovative approaches are being adopted by GC and in-house teams to measure and report the value they bring to their organisation in terms of commercial advantage and mitigation of risks."
The study has found that 50% of general counsels set legal budgets, and two-thirds determine how legal budgets are spent.
On average, 58% of a general counsel's budget is spent obtaining legal advice, and almost half of specialist advice and a quarter of high-level strategic work is outsourced.