Thanks to an ever-expanding economy and the pace of mergers and acquisitions in particular, spending on outside counsel rose 6.34 percent in 1998, according to an annual survey by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The increase could be attributed to a larger volume of work going to outside counsel or to higher hourly billing rates from those firms, said Kathryn K. Parker, a director at PricewaterhouseCoopers.