Outsourced legal work increases, survey finds

August 19, 2016

A survey of in-house and outside counsel finds conflicting views about whether outsourced legal work has increased in the past year. Attorneys in firms and in-house positions who responded to the survey also both rated themselves higher than they rated each other.

Those are among the findings of the second annual International Association of Defense Counsel’s second annual Inside/Outside Counsel Relationship Survey. The association said the results point to noteworthy and enduring disconnects in communication between in-house and law firm counsel and their understanding of each other’s challenges.
“The purpose of the 2016 Inside/Outside Counsel Relationship Survey was to better understand current trends in outsourcing legal services and to gauge how in-house counsel and outside lawyers are getting along, especially compared to the findings from the IADC’s 2015 survey,” said John T. Lay Jr., IADC president and a shareholder at South Carolina-based Gallivan White & Boyd P.A. “The survey results demonstrate that both sides still require greater understanding and support in certain key areas.”
The IADC online survey includes responses from 346 corporate attorneys currently working in the legal department of a company/corporation and 333 attorneys employed at a law firm or private law practice. Among the findings:

  • 61 percent of inside counsel reported an uptick in the amount of work they were contracting out to law firms over the last 12 months, while only 39 percent of outside counsel said their work from corporate clients increased over the same period.
  • Compared to the previous 12 months analyzed in the 2015 survey, this year 8 percent more inside counsel and 12 percent more outside counsel reported growth in the overall amount of outsourced legal work.
  • Slightly more than half of in-house respondents said they expect outsourcing to continue to grow over the next 12 months.
  • 82 percent of law firm counsel rated themselves responsive to client emails and phone calls, while only 55 percent of in-house counsel agreed.
  • 62 percent of in-house counsel said they provided clear directives and outlines of expectation, while only 39 percent of outside counsel agreed.

The IADC is an invitation-only global legal organization founded in 1920 for attorneys who represent corporate and insurance interests.


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