June 30, 2009 12:11 PM
Study: Law Firms Have "Little or No Interest in Change," CLOs Say
Posted by Brian Baxter
An annual survey of chief legal officers conducted by legal consultancy Altman Weil has found that law firms aren't exactly embracing the forces of change that many claim are sweeping the legal industry.
Altman Weil's 2009 Chief Legal Officer Survey received responses from 183 CLOs--about 15 percent of the 1,222 corporate law departments invited to participate. Sixty-two percent of respondents worked for companies with over $2 billion in revenues.
"This year, in the midst of an unprecedented financial shift, we wanted to learn if the talk about a changing model of legal service delivery--in terms of pricing, staffing, and law firm selection criteria--was being translated into action," said a statement by Altman Weil principal Daniel DiLucchio, Jr.
The study revealed that 25 percent of CLOs surveyed said they were putting a 'high' amount of pressure on their outside panel firms to change "the value proposition in legal service delivery," as opposed to simply cutting costs. Another 37 percent rated the pressure as medium, while 38 percent said there was a low degree of pressure on outside law firms to change.
When asked how serious firms are in changing their service models, only five percent of CLOs surveyed said firms are serious about changing their structure. Another 20 percent gave firms some credit for implementing efforts towards change, but an overwhelming 75 percent rated firms as having "little or no interest in change."
"This is a dramatic vote of no confidence from [CLOs]," said DiLucchio. "Either many law firms just don't understand that clients today expect greater value and predictability in staffing and pricing legal work, or firms are failing to adequately communicate their understanding and willingness to make real change. In either case, it's a big problem."
The survey also indicated that corporate legal departments expect to curtail their use of outside counsel in the next 12 months. Forty percent of respondents stated that less work would go to firms this year, up from 26 percent last year, and 27 percent of CLOs surveyed stated that they have reduced their in-house staff of attorneys so far in 2009.
Click here for more results from Altman Weil's CLO survey.
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