In-House Counsel

New report finds corporate legal departments are awash in work and concerned about costs

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Updated: Corporate legal departments are busier than ever, which has led to an increase in work for in-house attorneys and outside counsel, according to a new study released Tuesday from the Thomson Reuters Legal Tracker LDO Index.

The semi-annual study, which is compiled from anonymous data from over 1,000 legal departments as well as written responses from 161 participating companies, found that 52 percent of legal departments had experienced an uptick in work during the last six months.

As for where that work went, nearly half of the responding legal departments increased their outside counsel ranks while only 28 percent hired more in-house attorneys.

“Corporate legal departments are rapidly evolving how they manage their legal spend, becoming much more proactive and sophisticated in their strategies,” Eric Ruud, managing director of Legal Enterprise Solutions at Thomson Reuters, said in a statement. “The entire legal ecosystem is evolving rapidly as organizations face greater pressure to increase efficiency and maximize cost-effectiveness. Many legal departments are now optimizing their legal spend by employing a variety of approaches, including greater focus on legal operations, effective cost controls on outside counsel, and more use of technology.”

Other findings from the report include 51 percent of companies now have full-time legal operations staffers. Additionally, the study found that only a small percentage of companies–18 percent–have increased their spending on legal technology compared to 12 percent that have reduced spending.

The report also asked companies to rank several methods of controlling costs in order from most effective to least effective. The results were:

• Auto-reduction of invoice expenses

• Required law firm matter budgets

• Fixed/flat fee set at matter level

• Volume discount

Updated June 8 to clarify fifth paragraph

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