More In-House Counsel Predict Jump in Litigation, Spurring Lawyer Hiring
Posted Oct 14, 2008 8:52 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
About a third of in-house counsel responding to a survey are projecting an increase in legal disputes involving their companies for the coming year—and nearly 20 percent predict the need to hire more in-house lawyers to manage the expected increase.
The survey (PDF) of about 360 in-house counsel by the law firm Fulbright & Jaworski found that 31 percent of in-house counsel projected an increase in legal disputes. Only 22 percent predicted an increase last year. A press release summarized the survey and a second press release contained survey highlights.
Among in-house counsel who work for companies with more than $1 billion in revenue, 43 percent predicted an increase in new filings, compared to 34 percent who foresaw an increase last year. The numbers were even higher for financial services businesses—half of their in-house counsel projected an increase in legal disputes.
Reasons given for the projected increase included turmoil in the credit markets and subprime related litigation. Another respondent said the bad economy affects even employment litigation. “Trend analysis demonstrates that as the economy worsens, lawsuits rise. Given that, we expect to see an increase in the number of employment and business litigation matters,” the respondent said.
Seventeen percent of in-house counsel said they were likely to beef up their in-house litigation staffs as they prepare for more suits. Only 3 percent expected their number of in-house litigators to decrease. The prediction is counter to the recent trend of cutting back on in-house litigation expenses. Indeed, the survey had found a decline year-over-year in the size of in-house legal departments managing litigation.