A survey conducted by the Association of Corporate Counsel and Serengeti, and reported on Law.com’s In-house Counsel was released last month. It tells us that the main concern of 86 percent of 169 companies surveyed is compliance of company activities with the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). Legal costs, which had been the biggest concern for the four previous years, slipped to second place. Further, 63% of the legal departments are required to certify that there are “no material deficiencies in their reporting of legal issues,” as well as other onerous reporting mandates under SOX, which are all giving general counsels headaches.

With all these concerns, one might think that with SOX compliance being at the top of the list, that the larger, more expensive firms have a lock on the business. However, you should remember that the concern over the rising costs of legal services only slipped to No. 2, it hasn’t gone away. And there are other interesting factors reported in the survey, including that nearly 56% (up from 50.7% in prior year) of companies reported firing outside law firms for reasons such as poor work product and results, unresponsiveness, “high fees” and relationship issues.

So, the message for small to medium-sized firms is: If you have a lawyer who is on top of the requirements of Sarbane-Oxley (or soon could be), and the firm’s rates are more reasonable, there is some real legal marketing opportunities out there involving SOX compliance that are not likely to go away any time soon.