Cost-related improvements top list of what in-house buyers want from their outside law firms

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The leaders of in-house legal teams are most interested in improvements related to cost when it comes to their relationship with their outside law firms.

The insight comes from the “Chief Legal Officer Survey” conducted by Altman Weil. For the 19th edition of the annual study, the consulting firm received 280 responses, with respondents representing legal teams from only one lawyer to more than 50 lawyers and companies with less than US$1bn in annual revenue to those with more than US$50bn in revenue.

Asked what improvements and innovations they wanted, in-house legal team leaders most wanted their outside law firms to provide greater cost reduction (57.9%), followed by improved budget forecasting (40.1%) and non-hourly-based pricing structures (32.7%).

These were followed by more efficient project management (28.7%), more efficient project staffing (27.2%), and greater effort to understand client’s business (26.2%). Next were preventative law strategies (22.3%), modification of work to match client legal risks (19.8%), and improved communication and responsiveness (18.8%).

Technology efficiencies were ranked last by chief legal officers, with just 10.9% indicating the answer. Other responses the survey received for improvements and innovations respondents wanted from their outside law firms included improvements in racial diversity of staffing and leadership in legal projects, progress on diversity and inclusion, and greater analytical rigour.

The Altman Weil survey also explored the main reasons that in-house legal leaders moved work worth US$50,000 or more to another outside firm. Reasons given varied slightly when taking the size of in-house teams into consideration.