Private equity firms in the U.S. and U.K. are looking to cut their legal bills in the coming year, according to a survey of in-house counsel that bodes ill for one of the legal industry’s most lucrative practice areas.

The coronavirus pandemic, declining M&A activity and fundraising deal volumes, improved procurement skills, and a desire for greater billing transparency have all led to a push to reduce legal spend, the poll of 100 legal executives at buyout houses found.

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