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    July 22, 2008  
 
 

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Wish you knew what weighs on the minds of in-house counsel these days? Two recent surveys give results. The first comes from a June "Wake Up to the Future" conference held by the Association of Corporate Counsel in NYC for 100 senior corporate counsel, over a third at companies doing more than $10 billion in revenue.

 

ACC President Fred Krebs was back at his DC office yesterday to tell us about the conference, co-hosted by the UK law firm Eversheds, where attendees punched in answers to questions on remote-control devices and saw results flash up in real time for discussion. Highlights:

  • On a scale of 1 (low) to 5, 87% of corporate counsel gave firms only a 1 or 2 rating on efficiency, with no one giving them a 4 or 5. Ouch.
  • Half gave firms only a 1 or 2 in preparing comprehensible budgets and following them.

ACC thinks the billable hour is part of the problem and that many law firm business models aren't aligned with corporate needs. To develop alternatives, they've assembled a blue-ribbon panel including counsel from GE, Sun Microsystems, FMC, and Wells Fargo for an initiative to "reconnect value and costs for legal services." They're calling it the "ACC Value Challenge," with a town-hall-style launch event in DC on September 26. Stay tuned.

 

Other results:

  • Nearly 40% said that global growth was the biggest current issue for corporate law departments, outpacing even the rising cost of outside counsel, at 20%.

  • More than 40% were worried about their companies' readiness to meet global legal demands, with China operations causing the most concern.

Altman Weil Tracks In-House Trends

 

Over at Altman Weil, Principal Dan DiLucchio told us about the ninth annual "Chief Legal Officer Survey," which has its own eye-openers:

  • 49% said they plan to hire additional in-house lawyers this year, up from 35% in 2006. Dan says bulking up in-house points to today's emphasis on cost control.
  • 48% are considering firing one of their firms this year, up from 29% in 2006. Asked to rank ten reasons for firing a law firm, respondents placed failure to achieve diversity objectives as the last concern.
  • Despite reports of the demise of the mid-sized firm (100-350 attorneys), 27% of firms used fell into that category and 77% think mid-sized firms have a strong future.

Results are based on responses from 126 chief legal officers, nearly half in companies with revenues of $2-10 billion. When asked to look in his crystal ball, Dan sees a trend in which in-house purchasing groups (that buy office materials in bulk), rather than in-house counsel, negotiate and purchase outside legal services.


Cooley Godward Nurtures Tech Babies

 

Last night we were on hand as Cooley Godward venture lawyer Mike Lincoln, with wife Wendy, opened their McLean home to honor 18 months of success for Deloitte's Tech Venture Center. The TVC provides high-growth start-ups with access to accountants, lawyers, headhunters, and other professional service providers. Cooley's Reston office was something of a start-up itself when Mike co-founded it in 1999, making it the first Silicon Valley firm in the area and playing a role in legitimizing the NoVa tech scene. The office weathered the '01 downturn and is now up to 80 attorneys, ready to celebrate its 10th anniversary in April. Mike and Wendy just returned from vacation in Italy where they added to their growing wine cellar—essential to have ready when deals close.

 
 
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