At the dawn of 2020, leaders of corporate law departments have choices like never before. Gone are the days when they had one option to handle a legal matter that surpassed the capabilities of their in-house staff: dial up a law firm. The market abounds with new vendors—Axiom, UnitedLex, Elevate and plenty of less-prominent names—that promise new ways of handling legal work, and the Big Four accounting firms continue to eye legal services as an opportunity. With the rise of legal operations as a discipline, clients have turned to data to guide their efforts to slice and dice work between firms and alternative providers.

In spite of this cornucopia of options, the terrain remains surprisingly firm. According to a recent survey from Altman Weill, only 27.7% of chief legal officers anticipate trimming their outside legal spending in 2020. Of those who do, only 19.7% said that shifting work to non-law firm vendors would be part of their cost-cutting strategy. Compare that to the 57.6% of respondents who said they would keep more work in-house and the 50% who aimed to negotiate better rates.

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