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In-house lawyers disillusioned with BigLaw: report

Senior in-house legal professionals have aired their dissatisfaction with aspects of the BigLaw model in a new report.

user iconTom Lodewyke 06 February 2018 Corporate Counsel
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International legal network Interlaw recently released the report Global Legal Services in a Disruptive World, which shed light on the relationships between in-house lawyers and the law firms they brief.

The report was produced by Legal Week Intelligence on behalf of InterLaw, and surveyed 100 general counsel and 55 independent law firms in 41 countries.

General counsel of multinational companies said they struggled to find a single law firm with the global reach to advise them in every jurisdiction in which they operated.


Further analysis by Legal Week Intelligence showed that 83 per cent of lawyers at 30 of the top international law firms were based in Europe or North America, with gaps in other key markets, according to a statement from InterLaw.

General counsel also aired concerns with the growth pressures on international law firms. Half of the surveyed GCs said that as international law firms grow, they become bogged down by internal operating pressures and their client service suffers.

The survey respondents also said common behaviours included “political wrangling” between law firms, poor communication between teams and relationships being blocked to preserve income for a particular office, according to Interlaw.

The majority (87 per cent) of general counsel said they were more focused on the calibre of the advice they receive than the structure of the provider.

Interlaw said the report showed that general counsel were becoming more open to look outside BigLaw when selecting firms. Almost half (46 per cent) said they already used or intended to use a network of independent law firms.

Of the respondents who had already worked with a global network, 77 per cent said the experience was either “good” or “excellent”, citing local insight as the biggest benefit.

“We wanted to get an honest picture of what global clients need and it’s clear that quality advice in all markets is still challenging to find,” said Interlaw chair Michael Siebold.

“But, we’re encouraged that GCs recognise the strength of the network model in having the genuine global footprint they are seeking.”

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