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In-house legal budgets climbed more than 20% on average between 2004 and 2006, according to the most recent Association of Corporate Counsel census. Departments with six attorneys or fewer reported budget hikes of 30% to nearly $1.9 million from more than $1.4 million. The increase was similar at legal departments employing between 6 and 20 lawyers, where budgets rose 33% to $8.1 million, up from $6.1 million. Departments with at least 21 lawyers spent about 17% more to $32.3 million, up from $27.5 million. The increases exclude litigation spending, which increased by an average of 10% across companies. In contrast, all departments budgeted an average 30% more for online research. The online spending hike reflects in-house counsels’ need to respond to corporate compliance demands, said the association’s president Frederick J. Krebs. “Our members are becoming more innovative in managing these issues through their departments and outside counsel partners,” Krebs said. The association e-mailed surveys to 49,259 in-house counsel and received responses from 3,426 individuals at 2,708 companies. Of the respondents, 35% were chief legal officers or general counsel.

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