Just a few years ago, the only way for legal departments to reduce spending on outside law firms was for in-house counsel to directly question their outside firms, resulting in conversations that were often uncomfortable for both participants.

Beyond the awkwardness of the topic, line-by-line review of legal bills can be extremely difficult (if even possible) for already overburdened in-house lawyers. Even when time can be found to conduct bill reviews, legal departments often lack sufficient data to evaluate the reasonableness of fees for a given project or task.

For these reasons, the sponsors of this survey thought the time was right to launch an annual “Reducing Legal Spending” survey.

Since 2020 is the inaugural year for our survey, we focused on baseline issues, including the following key topics:

  1. How do in-house counsel currently manage the reduction of legal spending (if at all)?
  2. What is the current state of knowledge among in-house counsel regarding available tools and procedures for reducing legal spending?
  3. What are the plans and hopes of in-house counsel regarding how they will reduce legal spending in the future?

Our goals in this white paper are:

(1) to share with the legal community an interesting summary of what we learned in this survey; (2) to provide practical advice that in-house counsel can use right now to reduce their companies’ legal spending; and (3) to give outside counsel useful data regarding their clients’ attitudes and concerns about legal spending.

Survey Demographics

There was significant interest among in-house counsel in our inaugural Reducing Legal Spending survey, which garnered 167 responses along with dozens of insightful anecdotal observations.

The survey drew from in-house counsel in a wide variety of industries:

Which of the following best describes the principal industry of your organization?

Our survey was balanced in terms of company size, including numerous companies with 2,500 or more employees (36.5%), 100 - 2,499 employees (37.1%) and fewer than 100 employees (26.4%).

Respondents came from companies with a broad range of outside legal spending:

What is your approximate annual spending on outside counsel? (Your best estimate is fine).

Executive Summary