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Archived updates for Monday, November 07, 2005

Managing Outside Counsel Survey

According to the 2005 ACC/Serengeti Managing Outside Counsel Survey, the percentage of in-house counsel who require budgets for at least some of their legal work remained relatively flat in 2004 at 76.2 percent. However, the average percentage of matters for which budgets are required has been steadily increasing over the years from 37.5 percent in 2001 to 56.4 percent in 2004.

However, outside counsel costs are less of an issue now than they were in previous years. For the first time, “reducing outside legal costs” was not named as the most pressing issue for in-house counsel (even though it still ranks as the second greatest concern). The top issue of concern for in-house counsel in 2004 was “keeping apprised of company activities that may have legal implications”—in other words, compliance. This may be in part because of the increased oversight necessary as a result of Sarbanes-Oxley and other statutes, as well as recent high-profile litigation relating to compliance issues.

When it comes to selecting which firms/lawyers to retain, the survey shows that in-house counsel still rely primarily on personal referrals from a variety of sources. These include recommendations from current outside counsel (79.7%), a company-approved outside counsel list (50.4%), in-house counsel at their company (49.6%) and in-house counsel at other companies (48.9%).
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