The 18th Annual Survey of General Counsel conducted by InsideCounsel magazine has just came out, and the message is clear than companies are not any happier with their outside law firms. Survey respondents more than doubled from 407 last year to 862 in-house counsel. Tensions continue to rise over the cost of legal services. Seventy-seven percent are “under pressure to spend less on outside counsel.”

Some of the findings:

  • Legal departments planning to fire “one of their firms” in 2007 – 33% (34% last year);
  • Most law firms pad their bills – 39% of in-house counsel would agree (a decrease from 42% last year); and 10% of law firms agree (an increase from last year’s 6% – Hmm);
  • Has law firm service improved over the last 5 years? – 35% say no, 29% yes;
  • Law firms are “seeking ways to reduce costs” – 70% disagree (24% of law firms would also disagree);
  • Over one-third (38%) think law firms make too much money (down from 43% last year);
  • Overall performance (by outside firms) continues to decline (an “A” grade by only two percentage points, but any decrease isn’t good news).

As I have pointed on other occasions, in-house counsels’ unhappiness creates opportunities for small to mid-size law firms to penetrate the world of large companies. Here’s four earlier posts:

The bottom line for small to mid-sized firms is this: a well-planned, focused marketing approach could put them in a position to penetrate the marketplace of large corporations and take work from BigLaw.