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US companies shift more legal work in-house

US companies shift more legal work in-house

A new survey shows general counsel in the US are facing a mounting internal workload, mirroring movements in the Australian market.

Earlier this year, a survey by Mahlab found Australian companies were increasingly expecting their in-house teams to tackle greater workloads and increased responsibility.

The results of the 2015 Chief Legal Officer Survey by Altman Weil has found a similar trend in the US market.

According to the survey, internal and external cost pressures were CLOs' greatest concern in managing their law departments in 2015.

With this in mind, 40 per cent of law departments indicated they plan to decrease their spend on outside counsel over the next 12 months.

Of those planning to decrease their external expenditure, 76 per cent said some of the work would go to their own in-house legal staff instead, while 13 per cent will use vendors and 9 per cent will use contract lawyers.

The survey found that nine out of 10 CLOs pursued improvements in the efficiency of their department’s delivery of legal services to help cut costs over the past 12 months.

Key ways that CLOs did this was by increasing the use of technology tools and internal restructuring/reorganising of resources.

A total of 42 per cent of law departments shifted work from law firms to in-house lawyer staff, 34 per cent shifted work from in-house lawyers to department paralegals, 25 per cent used contract or temporary lawyers and 15 per cent outsourced work to non-law firm vendors.

When asked what service improvements they would like to see from their outside counsel, 50 per cent of CLOs selected greater cost reductions, 46 per cent selected improved budget forecasting and 36 per cent selected non-hourly based pricing.

It wasn’t all about the money, however, with CLOs also wanting law firms to take a more innovative approach to how their work is done.

Morever, 40 per cent want more efficient project management from outside counsel and 31 per cent would like law firms to stop over-lawyering matters.

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