A high proportion of in-house legal teams are using direct briefing to gain direct access to specialist expertise, a survey has found.
The Australian Corporate Lawyers Association survey has shown that 43.7% of in-house respondents, or their organisations, have directly briefed a barrister in the past 12 months.
“They are looking for where they can get the best advice, the best value for money – choosing where they are going for their outsourcing, and direct briefing is a logical one. It’s one where people can get expertise, but equally people are finding that legal process outsourcing, through its commoditised low volume work is better for their organisation,” said ACLA CEO Trish Hyde.
Hyde said there are a number of reasons that in-house counsel continue to prefer to use direct briefing for their outsourcing needs. She said expert advice, cost saving and time efficiency are among the top reasons that in-house teams choose to directly brief their barristers.
“Direct briefing gives you access to experts who are practising at the coal face and understand the ramifications of a simple question or what may seem like a simple question because they’re interacting with the courts on a daily basis,” she said. “There’s quite significant benefit in getting that direct access to that expertise. The second thing is that it can be quite cost effective because they may be able to provide an answer quite quickly… being able to get a barrister for a certain period of time to give you advice can save money.”
Of the direct briefers, 84% said they took a barrister’s recognised expertise into account.
Only 54% said they took recommendations from an in-house colleague or private practitioner.
Hyde said that finding the right barrister is the biggest challenge when utilising direct briefing.
“You need to know who to talk to. Actually matching to the correct barrister, that’s the challenge. It’s based on expertise and networks,” she said. “Finding the barrister that suits your needs is probably the one challenge but there’s plenty of help – member to member networks, in-house counsel are helping each other out.”