Six leading in-house counsel answered this question: “In what situations or under what circumstances would you and/or your company consider using an outside lawyer with whom you have not previously worked?” Below is a summary of their responses:
- When there is a new, developing and/or niche area(s) – such as privacy and data security – where in-house counsel does not have the expertise and/or capacity.
- Capacity issues. When the in-house counsel does not practice in that area, there is too much volume and/or there is no in-house counsel at the company/entity.
- Turnover of general or in-house counsel or other decision-makers, such as when a new in-house counsel is hired or a new human resources manager starts at the company. Two of the in-house counsel mentioned that they had started at their companies only about twelve to eighteen months ago, and out of the dozens of outside law firms their companies use, only about 10% of them reached out to them when they arrived in their new position.
- Relationship issues with existing outside counsel. For example, some long-standing, existing relationships may be stale or may be transitioning from an aging baby-boomer lawyer. So, a client may feel: the need to consider new/other counsel; taken for granted; and/or that outside counsel is in a complacent/reactive mode. In addition, some in-house counsel expressed they have service issues with some of their outside counsel – issues such as lack of proactive counsel and advice and, inconsistent responsiveness, etc.
- Any lawyer or firm that can offer them comparable quality of legal services at lower total fees, fixed fees, and/or in any other predictable and transparent manner is always sought after. They are all under pressure to reduce the number of outside firms they use, to save money on outside legal services and to reduce their total outside legal spend by between 10% and 25% annually.
- In situations, cases or matters where various company/entity employees need or require separate, independent outside counsel.
- Joint defense opportunities, when a nonconflicting party is also a party to the same lawsuit, jointly retaining a firm might make sense and conserve total outside legal fees.
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