With 2020 and the start of a new decade, it’s a great time for legal departments to re-assess their traditional approaches to managing outside counsel spending.

Our survey findings demonstrate that there is a strong desire within legal departments to measure, track and reduce outside legal spending. Fortunately, our findings also show that third party solutions have emerged to address this traditionally thorny issue, and that these solutions are, generally speaking, effective in reducing legal spending.

In planning for the future of their legal departments with regard to outside counsel spending, the authors of this survey recommend the following practical approach:


All legal departments with significant outside counsel spending definitely should have a plan that includes having actual experienced attorneys analyze each time entry on all legal bills and discuss the findings directly with their outside law firms.


In conducting their evaluations, legal departments should compare the out-of-pocket costs of various legal billing management solutions and understand the true ROI based on savings on staff time and outside counsel spending.


Legal departments do not need to be overly concerned with potential objections from outside law firms — law firms who are delivering high quality and cost-effective services have little to fear from this type of innovation and those are the firms legal departments should be most interested in working with.


Legal departments should also be very attuned to the “soft” costs of alternative legal billing solutions:

Does a solution put a time burden on in-house counsel? Does a solution find real cost savings, or merely pick up on typos and discrepancies with attorney entries based on predefined criteria? Does a solution free in-house counsel from wrangling with outside counsel over bills, or just add one more item to bicker about?