The results of a recent ACC survey are out, and the results should worry outside lawyers.  According to a article on the survey from Inside Counsel, the amount of work corporations are referring to outside lawyers is declining, in some cases rather significantly. The results of the survey show:

  • 37% of GCs planned to hire more staff in 2011
  • 65% of in-house departments use outside firms for litigation, compared with 69% in 2006
  • 20% of in-house departments use outside firms for tax issues, compared with 30% in 2006
  • 28% of in-house departments use outside firms for M&As, compared with 35% in 2006
  • 22% of in-house lawyers earned more than $300,000 in 2011

In other words, work that was sent to outside lawyers in the go-go days is now being handled by inside lawyers.  Clients have learned the value of make vs. buy decisions, and outside lawyers are more often on the south side of that decision.

That trend, in combination with continued economic pressure on law departments and clients’ awakening to the realization that the power in the lawyer-client relationship is inherently theirs, should not make managing partners sleep more soundly any time soon.  The real question is what firms will do about this.