Posted by: johnocunningham | November 22, 2017

Chief Legal Officers Tell Where They’re Headed

The 2017 edition of the Chief Legal Officer Survey was recently published by legal consulting firm, Altman Weil, which summarized 280 responses from 21% of the 1,332 corporate law departments invited to participate.

Among the key survey findings were the following:

  • Nearly 60 percent of the largest law departments (those with 50 or more lawyers) are cutting their total legal spending (part of a continuing trend)
  • Overall, more legal departments plan to increase legal spending on outside counsel in 2018 (first time since 2007)
  • Outsourcing to non-law-firm vendors is reportedly the management tactic that results in the greatest gains in efficiency and cost control, but this tactic is still used very selectively

The second bullet is good news for outside counsel, but the positive reversal of a ten-year trend in lowering outside counsel budgets is much more popular with smaller law departments, according to the survey.

The third bullet is the one for law firms to heed. While outsourcing to non-law-firm vendors, such as accounting firms and contract lawyers, is still a tactic of limited use, it is not likely to stay that way for long. Corporate law departments are very good at driving costs down over time, and they will figure out more ways to make use of non-law-firm vendors, particularly autonomous and semi-autonomous technology providers who handle discovery reviews.

For law firms, it is more important than ever to map out a competitive strategy, stake out the turf that can be defended, attack the ground that can be taken back, and look for new fields that can prove fruitful.

For those who are interested, I recommend reading Altman Weil’s entire 2017 survey.


  1. Reblogged this on Legal Career Center.

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