Law Practice

Outside Law Firms Still Don't Get It, In-House Counsel Say in Survey

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Although the law firms doing corporate work understand that they need to focus on servicing the needs of in-house counsel, they still don’t know how to do so.

That is the gist of what in-house counsel say in a recent survey, according to Fred Krebs, the president of the American Corporate Counsel association. While “focusing on client service is the latest buzz within law firms,” he says, “they still aren’t getting it,” reports the Associated Press.

Specifically, the survey, which was discussed at the ACC meeting this week in Chicago, pinpointed as issues that needed to be addressed seemingly perennial problems such as excessive bills, inefficient handling of legal matters and communication and personality issues when dealing with lawyers.

However, corporate counsel are becoming increasingly skilled—and active—in helping law firms learn to play the legal representation game according to the company’s rules, the article says. There is, in general, a trend toward setting more standards and rules for outside counsel, but some in-house attorneys are more focused on doing so than others.

“Roughly one-fourth of in-house counsel are more actively managing outside counsel than the majority of their peers,” the article notes. In addition to “convergence”—that is to say, having a relatively small number of law firms handle most of the corporation’s legal work, such activist in-house management of outside counsel tends to focus on “issuing competitive bids for new work, requiring minimum levels of experience of associates working on their projects, getting discounts for early payment of bills, and systematically evaluating the performance of their outside counsel.”

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