X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
For years in-house lawyers have bragged about making fundamental changes in the way they work with outside counsel. They say they’re rewriting the rules about how a law firm gets hired; they’re extracting concessions in the fees they pay for legal services. But judging by our 2003 Quality of Life survey, many of these statements are just talk. (See “The Customer’s Always Right”.) For the first time as part of our annual survey, we asked in-house lawyers detailed questions about their relationships with their outside counsel. The results from the 1,010 respondents did not even hint at watershed change. In fact, most in-house lawyers surveyed said they were happy with the law firms they use. Eighty-seven percent of respondents said they were satisfied with their law firms’ work, and 85 percent were satisfied with their outside counsel’s attitude. Thirty percent said their companies cut the number of outside law firms their company uses. But then again, 24 percent said they are using more firms. The results in this survey contrast with comments made by newly hired general counsel in last month’s Corporate Counsel survey, “The Counsel You Keep: Who Represents America’s Biggest Companies.” In that report, the new GCs said they were boldly reshaping their relationships with law firms. They were firing long-standing firms and shopping around for new ones. Legal consultants say they can explain the apparent contradiction between the two sets of findings. Rees Morrison of the Somerset, New Jersey-based consulting firm Hildebrandt International, Inc., says that GCs may be looking to change the number of outside firms they use. But, he adds, lower-level in-house lawyers may not have the power to hire or fire firms at will. Even so, the revolution isn’t likely to happen anytime soon. “I hate to burst anybody’s bubble,” says Morrison, a member of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Billable Hours, which published a study on the topic in August 2002. “But these things are definitely not changing. Eighty-nine percent of billing is straight billing,” according to the ABA study. Our findings bear that out. The survey’s most eye-popping number in the law firm section, is that 44 percent of respondents said they were pursuing alternative fee arrangements. Among that group, 43 percent said they were getting flat or fixed fees, and 16 percent got fees-by-contingency. Just 14 percent said they were getting discounts. Some companies resort to plain, old-fashioned jawboning to lower fees. Honeywell Inc. associate general counsel Elizabeth Stairs says that she recently went to a prominent New York law firm and complained loudly about the “grossly inappropriate” bill her department received. Stairs says, however, that even though the firm wouldn’t reduce its bill, Honeywell kept it on as outside counsel. The only punishment was to “de-emphasize their role,” she says. In-house lawyers clearly have a long way to go before they dramatically overhaul the traditional billing model. Frederick Krebs of the Association of Corporate Counsel says, “I sense more sound and fury than what’s actually being implemented.”

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.