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It was another conference where the divide between law firms and clients was being gently massaged, when the conversation turned harsh and funny. One general counsel was clearly frustrated. He’d lived through a year of deep budget cuts and layoffs. He’d smiled though the ‘do more with less’ lecture from his boss. He’d brought more work in-house, switched a few of his law firms, begged them for new approaches, and still felt, as he summed it up, screwed. The staffing by the firms was out of kilter, the prices too high, they didn’t obey the ‘supply chain’ rules as other vendors did. He was tired of it, and beginning to eye his company’s procurement officers as the solution. Maybe, he said with a twinkle in his eye, it was time “to let those animals at some of our service providers”.

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