Corporate Legal Departments Still Doing More with Less

Corporate Counsel recently published its 2012 Law Department Metrics Benchmarking Survey and the key finding is that in-house legal departments are being forced to do more with less.  As a result of the “Great Recession,” many attorneys have moved from law firms to corporate legal departments in search of a better work-life balance.  Workloads, however, continue to rise even in-house, and hiring and budgets aren’t necessarily increasing in tandem — forcing many legal departments to become more efficient, cut budgets, and ultimately do more with less.

This is similar to what we’ve found over the past few years in our annual US IP Trends Survey, which examines the global trends impacting in-house US IP professionals.  However, in both surveys, 2012 findings marked improvements over previous years in terms of cost-cutting and efficiency. 

71% of respondents from the Law Department Metrics Benchmarking Survey had heavier workloads in 2012, down from 83 percent a year ago.  Of all companies surveyed, 24 percent trimmed their budget versus 27 percent the previous year.  However, due to rate increases from outside law firms, many corporate legal departments are moving to keep (or bring) work in-house.  Similarly, our 2012 US IP Trends Survey found that 57 percent of respondents brought some IP steps in-house compared to 46 percent of respondents in the previous year’s survey.

More than half of respondents from the Law Department Metrics Benchmarking Survey also mentioned that they’ll do more business with outside firms using alternative fee arrangements (AFAs).  Traditionally, in-house legal departments have spent about 60 percent of their budgets on external legal service providers.  

You can read more about the survey’s findings on Corporate Counsel‘s website.


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