US GCs upbeat on Trump administration

General counsel believe the new US administration will make it easier for them to do business

US GCs upbeat on Trump administration
US President Donald J. Trump is a controversial figure – but most US general counsel expect is administration to have a positive impact on their business.

The results of a new Acritas survey showed that 72% of GCs based in the US believe their business operations will be impacted by the new administration while 21% are still uncertain. A minority of 7% said the Trump government won’t affect their operations at all.

“Clearly, a large majority of of GCs surveyed believe that there will be an impact on their business operations with President Trump in office. The biggest takeaway is that the GC community is on the whole more positive than negative about the potential impact of the Trump administration on their business operations,” Lizzy Duffy, Acritas US vice president, told Australasian Lawyer.

 “Chief legal officers seem to be most optimistic about the prospect of reduced regulation – many believe this should make it easier for them to do business.  It’s also notable that 7% do not expect the Trump administration to have any impact to their business,” she said.

Reduced regulation was identified by the 56% who were positive on the Trump administration as their main reason, followed by business- or industry-friendly policy change, reduced tax and economy boost. Other reasons cited for the upbeat outlook were infrastructure investment and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Meanwhile, the 44% who were negative on the Trump administration were most concerned about instability, uncertainty and inconsistency followed by barriers to global trade. Recently, Trump took the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The GCs also said they worried about poor international relations, reduced focus on alternative energies and the changing policy on healthcare.

The overall positive reaction of GCs is in contrast to the virtually all negative reaction GCs had in a separate survey on the impact of Brexit, Acritas noted. GCs said in the survey they were concerned about barriers to European Union trade, the loss of EU nationals as staff, the devalued currency and uncertainty and the knock-on effect to the UK economy.

Asked why Acritas compared both surveys, Duffy said that the firm wanted to benchmark the result but had not previously measured the impact of a change in US administration on business operations among GCs.

“The potential impact of Brexit, like a US election, was the closest and most recent comparison – both have implications that are far-reaching and varied for the business community across all sectors and markets,” she said.

Nonetheless, she pointed out that an important difference between the two is that the Brexit was quite unprecedented, whereas in the US, the administration changes every four to eight years.

“We expect that US respondents have greater experience to draw from when giving their views,” she said.

Meanwhile, private practice law firms need not worry about lower regulation eating into business generated by their compliance practices.

“I think it’s fair to say that regardless of the overarching regulatory climate, general counsel are still responsible for ensuring their organizations conduct their operations appropriately in the US and elsewhere. To that end, they will still need to rely on their outside counsel for understanding and navigating whatever regulatory changes result from the new administration,” Duffy said.

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