The squeeze play that has trapped general counsel between rising law firm fees and restrictions on headcount is still the name of the game in most corporations. That's what we found when we surveyed our readers via the Internet and mail for the InsideCounsel/Datacert Inc. 9th Annual Report of Corporate Law Departments.
While budgets are up a bit, they aren't keeping pace with workload that is expanding due to a revived economy and increased compliance requirements. And while some legal departments have the hiring sign out for the first time in this decade, most GCs are still squeezing budgets by pushing work down or out of the department and seeking concessions on law firm fees.
In analyzing the 181 survey responses, we looked at three main spending categories--staffing and hiring, outside counsel and technology--and interviewed both GCs and consultants for insights and advice. While not scientific, the results on the following pages provide a snapshot of legal department budgets and a starting point for comparing your spending practices with those of other GCs.
Jonathan Bellis, director and co-chair of law department consulting at Hildebrandt International, summed up the dilemma most GCs face.
"Work keeps increasing faster than the ability to add staff," he says. "But they can't send all the additional work outside. It's an uphill battle."
To view the results of the survey, download the .PDF here.