Survey Shows Conflicting Views of In-House, Law Firm Attorneys

By on December 1, 2015

Joseph E. O’Neil and Alfred R. Paliani, International Association of Defense Counsel

Earlier this year, the International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC) conducted its 2015 Inside/Outside Counsel Relationship Survey, to provide its members and the legal industry as a whole with key insights into the relationship between in-house counsel and lawyers at private law firms. The survey revealed that corporate legal departments and their outside counsel have inconsistent views of important relationship factors, including communication tactics, the amount of work expected to be referred to outside counsel and costs for legal services.

With regard to communication, in-house and outside counsel have differing ideas regarding best practices. Corporate respondents stressed the need for the “right” principal contacts for each matter and active one-on-one communications. Outside counsel feel that regularly scheduled written status reports are the most important best practice.

To achieve good communication, in-house counsel must know their business, clearly state their objectives, and provide requested information quickly. Understanding in-house counsel’s expectations of outcome, risk, and budget is critical to a successful result for outside counsel.

More work is being outsourced but it’s being consolidated to fewer law firms, as many corporate law departments have gone through a convergence process resulting in a select panel of outside counsel to serve the majority of the organization’s needs. Overall, having a smooth and workable arrangement for communicating and understanding the client’s needs is essential for successful outcomes and longevity in these types of relationships.

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