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Will General Counsels Change the Market? New GC Survey at Legal Onramp

Do general counsels exercise their market power to influence outside counsel or just complain? 

In June I wrote a “Modest Proposal” to regulate large law firms. My satire poked fun at the fact that GCs often complain about outside counsel yet rarely seem to use their market power to solve problems.

I think the status quo will continue but hope I’m proven wrong. A survey has just kicked off that should help get a better read on the market. It’s available exclusively at Legal Onramp. LOR is a work collaboration web site just for legal professionals.

The survey is by American Lawyer editor Aric Press and leading law department consultant Rees Morrison. In their introduction to the survey, they write “For all the enthusiasm and dire warnings, it has been difficult to separate the noise from the action. To help move the discussion along and to try to learn something, we’ve composed a brief survey. We are inviting participants from Legal On Ramp to respond. ”

This survey is better than many I’ve seen. First, it asks what GCs personally plan to do in the future rather than what they think will happen in the market. And second, most answers require specifying numbers, which means results can be more meaningfully tabulated than in many surveys. Here’s a sample question:

Between 2008 and 2013, ___% of our law department’s spending will move to lower cost offshore service providers, whether directly or as a subcontractor to our in country law firms.
>10% of total spending
6-10% of total spending
1-6% of total spending
No change
Decrease, we are moving more onshore”

I encourage inhouse counsel to respond. For an invitation to LOR, contact me (ron AT prismlegal DOT com).

  1. Neil J. Squillante

    They have a lot of power, but they don’t marshal it properly. They need to form an advocacy group as other industries have done though not to lobby Congress, but to create policies for corporate law departments to adopt. The fact that many legal departments now require e-billing is a good start, but there’s a long way to go.

    Also, I agree with Ron. Surveys that ask people to predict the future are worthless. It’s always better to ask what they’re doing. One caveat — unless every GC takes the survey or every GC from a random sample takes the survey, the results will be interesting but not reliable.