ALM Legal Intelligence  released a report  this week “Corporate Counsel: Agenda 2014”. Many of the themes are familiar: controlling costs, driving efficiency, alternative fee arrangements. But I can’t recall any recent reports that repeatedly point to “the government” as a major source of anxiety for in-house counsel.
How The government is impacting In house counsel
  •   The slow recovery of the economy.
  •   The fear of political stalemate.
  •   An expanding minefield of new regulations creates new risks of compliance failures
  •       New laws and regulations create new risks of liability.
  •   GCs must not only know the new laws and regulations, they have to figure out how to adopt company-wide procedures to assure compliance. 
What they want from outside counsel

“Responsiveness”of outside counsel jumped significantly since the last survey. 80% of GCs ranked this as the top quality GCs want from outside counsel.

Surprising findings
  • 90% of respondents expect their budgets to stay the same or increase in 2014
  • Supporting company growth and providing exceptional service to company leaders continue to be the top two concerns, of GCs.
  • Half of the respondents expect their company’s financial health to improve significantly in 2014 but only 1/3 think the US economy will improve.
  • 90% expect their legal budgets to increase or stay the same.
  • Many CGs are examining technology to improve efficiency, enhance compliance and reduce risk.
  • They would rather hire lawyers and staff rather than outsource to LPOs.
  • Most plan to move all transactional work in-house. Complex litigation will continue to be sent to outside counsel.
  • 56% of GCs plan to request alternative fee arrangements.

How to annoy your client

Total cost of outside legal work and the uncertainty of legal costs rank high in the list of irritants.

Outside counsel who provide legal solutions that don’t consider the business objectives are undermining their relationships with their clients.

Common Ground with Outside Counsel
  • GCs looking for technological solutions
  • GCs plan to implement project and workflow management.
  • GCs want to be positioned as strategic business partners in their organizations just as outside counsel want to be strategic business partners to the GCs.
Although most GC’s think that their companies will have a strong 2014, they are not confident that the overall economy will improve. They continue to scrutinize costs and to look for opportunities to enhance productivity and reduce outside counsel spending. Despite all of the financial scrutiny, personal relationships with individual lawyers remains an important factor in the retention of outside counsel.