Priority one in 2012 for chief legal officers is controlling costs. That’s according to results of the Chief Legal Officer Surveyconducted in October by consulting company Altman Weil. A total of 176 chief legal officers at U.S. companies responded to the 12th annual survey, which was made public today. Of those 176, 67.2 percent work at public companies, with the rest employed by private companies, partnerships, nonprofits and government agencies. Those responding did cite some other priorities for 2012, including efficient delivery of legal services, support for business goals of their company, quality legal service, compliance, risk management, lawyer staffing and managing outside counsel. While they said they want to control costs in 2012, 55.8 percent of the chief legal officers who responded to the survey said their legal department budget was higher in 2011 than in 2010; that’s compared to 50.6 percent who reported last year that their department’s budget increased in 2010 compared to 2009. Also, 45.8 percent of the legal departments increased outside counsel expenditures in 2011, the chief legal officers reported. In one area to watch, 10.3 percent of chief legal officers said they sent some legal work offshore in 2011, and 12.6 percent used offshore vendors for some work they may have given to firms in the past, such as e-discovery, document review, due diligence and legal research.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys