Controlling Cost of Outside Counsel Leads ACC Survey

The Association of Corporate Counsel just released a new study on the top priorities of in-house counsel. It should come as no surprise that cost control is beating out compliance concerns. 

The results of the 2009 ACC/Serengeti Managing Outside Counsel Survey, a collaboration between the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) and Serengeti Law, were just released yesterday at ACC’s Annual Meeting in Boston. The ACC press release sums up the new priorities:

“While compliance issues had reigned for three years, economic factors from the past year have altered the key focus for in-house counsel. The need to drive efficiency is leading to more value-based policies to reduce overall legal spend. Such policies include requiring minimum levels of associate experience, discounts for early payment of bills, engaging in RFPs, and reducing the number of law firms representing the company. For those firms they retain, clients are looking to negotiate more flexible value-based fee and service models.

Responsiveness is the key deliverable now expected of outside counsel. With new data this year related to the ACC Value Challenge, an initiative to reconnect the cost of legal services with value, it is important to note that the majority of in-house counsel (69.9%) provided specific suggestions to their outside counsel to increase the value of their services. While hourly rates are still the norm, use of alternative fee structures rose to 61% of in-house counsel. In particular, fixed fees (38.0% of in-house counsel), project retainers (15.4%) and contingency fees (10.5%) are increasingly popular alternatives. Furthermore, for next year, in-house counsel predict no increase in hourly rates—a first ever in the nine years of the survey.

Check out more details here.

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