With the onset of the 2008 recession came increased vigilance by companies on their outside legal fees. However, over the past three years our studies of corporate legal fees spent indicates that less has been achieved in cost savings than generally anticipated. Indeed, a substantial number of our clients have noted, if not complained, that legal costs over the past three years have dramatically increased in litigation matters and have moderately increased in other legal disciplines.
This year, C-Suites are no longer taking this state of affairs in stride, according to our latest trend survey on the role of the corporate law department. Instead, general counsels across the board particularly including those in midsize companies and startups are being pressed hard to step up their game as full-fledged members of the corporate policymaking team.
Equally significant are the efforts in large companies to make general counsels more accountable than ever before, as demonstrated by evolving compensation plans with new incentives based on the quality of strategic advise offered by the Chief Legal Officer and measurable cost savings provided by his/her legal department.
Today’s law schools and tomorrow’s lawyers are well advised to add to their curriculum enhanced business studies. As lawyers in law firms can no longer rely strictly on their technical expertise, we are now turning the corner in the corporate law departments as well. In the years to come, in-house lawyers will undoubtedly become more valuable in direct correlation in their business acumen.