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Roughly 63 percent of chief legal officers who attended the American Corporate Counsel Association’s annual meeting responded that they had severed relations or were planning to sever relations with at least one of their law firms in 2000. The top reason: a lack of responsiveness on the part of the firm, cited by 32.5 percent of the CLOs in the survey. Approximately 22.1 percent of CLOs claimed they would terminate a law firm because of the high numbers of billed hours. And another 22.1 percent said they would fire their law firm due to lack of legal results. The recent survey, co-sponsored by the ACCA and Newton Square, Pa.-based Altman Weil Inc., was designed to elicit feedback on issues and concerns pertaining to corporate law departments. About 77 CLOs participated in the survey last fall, identifying e-commerce, regulation and compliance, globalization, staffing and costs as issues that concern them. Yet another concern for general counsel is the steady increase in law firm associate salaries. Roughly 76 percent of CLOs reported experiencing an in-house impact; of those, 44.2 percent acknowledged an impact on both higher outside counsel fees and internal compensation. For 33.8 percent of the CLOs surveyed, pressure to reduce legal costs is a perennial issue in their corporation. With increasing salaries and legal costs from outside firms, perhaps it’s not surprising that 47 percent of CLOs plan to extend their in-house legal capabilities by hiring additional lawyers within the next year or two. Roughly 35 percent of CLOs said they plan to increase their use of outside counsel during the next one or two years. Another 48 percent plan to keep their number of outside counsel consistent. Only 12 percent of CLOs plan to decrease their use of outside counsel. TOOLS TO IDENTIFY COUNSEL In a related study, Altman Weil surveyed corporate law departments and law firms to determine which tools are used to identify, evaluate and select outside counsel or co-counsel. Results indicated that after personal referrals from colleagues, the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory remains the information tool of choice, with 81 percent of law firms citing it as one of their two most important sources. It remains an important tool for both corporate law departments and law firms. After the Martindale-Hubbell directory, 34 percent of CLOs reported they gain information from law firm conferences and seminars. Another 21 percent rely on law firm Web sites, and 21 percent utilize the information on the http://www.martindale.com/ Web site. This study also showed that legal professionals in corporate law departments are more likely to utilize the Internet to identify and evaluate lawyers than their counterparts in private firms.

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