In-house legal departments are doing more of their own work and relying less on outside counsel, the Association of Corporate Counsel finds in its ACC 2011 Census Report, which was made public today.
According to the report, based on survey information collected in April and May 2011, only 20 percent of the in-house lawyers who participated in the survey used outside counsel for tax work in 2011, compared to 30 percent in 2006, when the last Census Report was conducted, and 31 percent in 2004, when the Washington, D.C.-based organization did a smaller survey.
In 2011, 28 percent of the in-house lawyers used outside counsel for mergers and acquisitions, compared to 35 percent in 2006.
In IP work, it was 40 percent in 2011, compared to 45 percent in 2006, and litigation dropped to 65 percent in 2011 compared to 69 percent five years earlier.
As in 2006, litigation was the top area in 2011 for outside counsel use.
Some other interesting survey results:
- Money: In 2011, 22 percent of the in-house lawyers surveyed reported that their 2010 total compensation topped $300,000. In 2006, only 19 percent reported total compensation at that $300,000 level. In 2004, it was only 14 percent.
- Organization: In 2011, 73 percent of the corporate legal departments are organized at the corporate level, rather than by business unit. That compares to 55 percent in 2006.
- Diversity: Women hold 41 percent of the in-house positions at the companies that participated in the survey, compared to 37 percent in 2004. In 2011, 5 percent of in-house lawyers were Asian/Pacific Islander, compared to 3 percent in 2004; 4 percent were African American/black, compared to 2 percent in 2004, and 3 percent were Latino, the same percentage as in 2004.
Veta T. Richardson, ACC president and chief executive officer, says some of the findings, such as the increase in legal work done in-house, indicate the beginning of a power shift to in-house departments from firms.
“There seems to always be a pendulum swinging as for taking more work in-house, and at a different point of outsourcing more to outside lawyers. The pendulum is swinging as to more in-sourcing,” Richardson says.
Another significant development in 2011 compared to 2006 is the move to centralized legal departments, she says. Richardson says that gives in-house lawyers more opportunity to influence corporate decisions, because they are located closer to the seat of power.
The ACC 2011 Census Report includes responses from 5,844 individuals at 4,161 companies, including 3,652 in the United States. 31 percent of the respondents were chief legal officers or general counsel.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys