A new survey by The BTI Consulting Group, as reported in Law.com’s In-House Counsel, tells us that corporations are reducing the number of secondary law firms they use, not just to save costs, but to save administrative time in managing outside law firms.

Survey data show the following breakdown of the reduction (and intended drop) in the number of outside firms used:

  • 2007 – 2/10/40 (primary law firms/secondary/other firms)
  • 2008 – 2/9/32
  • 2012 – 2/6/23

Okay, the data are telling but not conclusive, and 2012 is a long way off. Further, the “new legal model” (whatever that means) could be very different by then. What might this mean for medium to smaller firms, when they are not one of the client’s “primary” law firms.

The survey also shows that corporate counsel are reluctant “to work with firms that aren’t flexible in billing, staffing matters and communicating with the client,” according to Michael B. Rynowecer, president of BTI. Moreover, in spite of the reduction, it showed “the same companies making a marked migration to smaller firms.”

So, what’s up? Well, it seems that non-BigLaw firms that demonstrate billing and staffing flexibility, and effectively communicate with the client are very much in play even as the number of overall firms is reduced.

One suggestion, along the communication line, would be to ask corporate counsel how your firm can help in reducing the administrative time (and costs) of managing their outside matters.