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Seven Takeaways from BTI Corporate Counsel Benchmark Study

BTI Consulting Group just released its newest study: Benchmarking Corporate Counsel Management Strategies which is based on 240 interviews with corporate counsel at large and Fortune 1000 companies. The data were collected between March 22 and September 12, 2012.

Here are seven takeaways:

  1. General Counsel priorities are changing. The survey found the top goal for corporate counsel is delivering more value.  Every year since 2007, the top goal has been controlling legal costs.
  2. Corporate counsel are adding more staff.  About a quarter, or 24.4 percent of corporate legal departments reported adding headcount, while just 6.7 percent said they cut staff.  On average, legal departments have added four full-time employees with two of those four being lawyers.
  3. Fewer firms get a greater share of work.  On average, large legal departments use 54 different firms, but spend most of their outside legal budget on just 13 firms. A primary firm can command between 25 and 35 percent of a single corporation’s work.
  4. Corporate legal budgets are up, but spending less on outside counsel.  Large corporate legal departments spend $33 million on legal services, which returns budgets to “near to pre-recession spending.”  However, the percent of that budget being spent on outside counsel is down slightly (about 3 percent) to 60.6 percent.
  5. Litigation and M&A are the top areas of spend.  Litigation services account for 41.4 percent of the budget, while M&A account for 13.8 percent overall. IP follows for third place with 9 percent of the budget.
  6. Alternative fees dipped slightly but are predicted to rise.  Alternative fee arrangements were down slightly to 79.3 percent from 81.6 percent the year prior.  However,  the study predicts, “cost savings—and use of AFAs—may soon see an uptick as corporate counsel experience better results with AFAs in Litigation and bring best practices to other matter types.”
  7. Matters to rise? 48.7 percent of respondents, a modest majority, said they expect matters to increase in 2013. 46.1 percent said they expected matters to decrease and the remainder believed the number of matters would remain the same.

Your turn: do these numbers match up with what you are seeing in the market?  Please share in the comments.

The full report is freely available for download and well worth a read.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:  Trust, But Verify

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About Frank Strong

Frank Strong
Frank Strong is the communications director for the LexisNexis software division located on NC State’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh. In this capacity, he leads communications efforts in support of software products for law practice and law department management and also litigation tools – across large law, small law and corporate counsel segments. With more than 15 years of experience in the high-tech sector, Strong previously served as director of public relations for Vocus, which developed marketing, PR and media monitoring software. He has held multiple roles both in-house with corporations, ranging from startups to global organizations, and has also endured the rigors of billable hours, having completed gigs at PR firms including the top 10 global firm Hill & Knowlton. A veteran of two year-long deployments, Strong has concurrently served in uniform in reserve components of the military for more than 20 years, initially as an enlisted Marine and later as an infantry officer in the Army National Guard. Strong holds a BA in Film and TV production from Worcester State University, an M.A. in Public Communication from American University, and an M.B.A. from Marymount University. He is a PADI-certified Master Scuba Diver and holds a USPA "B" skydiving license.