Priori 2021 Legal Departments Survey—Report & Analysis - Priori

Priori 2021 Legal Departments Survey—Report & Analysis

By Meg McEvoy

A report of the results from our 2021 Legal Departments Survey is now available!

This survey, fielded in January and February, engaged more than 130 in-house counsel and legal operations professionals. We wanted to go in-depth on the outside counsel engagement process: how in-house legal departments are searching for attorneys, obtaining recommendations, vetting their experience and hiring outside counsel.

The survey contained questions about how legal departments are conducting this research, perceptions of efficiency and top pain points. We also gathered data on important in-house initiatives like engaging diverse outside counsel.

A few highlights:

Qualitative Decision-Making. Law is a relationship business, and the process of engaging outside counsel is no exception. We found that the majority of in-house legal departments are focusing on qualitative rather than quantitative factors when choosing outside counsel, such as firm reputation and existing relationships. While this reflects that legal departments often have solid relationships with trusted outside counsel, this approach has downsides in terms of engaging diverse legal teams and controlling costs. There is also a lack of efficient processes for legal departments who need to venture beyond their existing legal networks.

Expertise Is Prime. Legal departments prioritize lawyer quality and experience when selecting outside counsel, but cost considerations are a close second. Many respondents said it was difficult to locate information about attorney experience/expertise when forming a new outside counsel relationship. Diversity considerations were not a strong factor driving outside counsel decisions, a finding that we hope will shift as we track this data over time.

Shared Imperatives on Data & Costs. Most in-house legal departments agreed that their professionals are being asked to be more data-driven. And outside counsel costs are a shared concern as well: many legal departments said their external legal costs had gone up since last year, and the majority said that cost was a top consideration when engaging outside counsel.

To see the full survey results and analysis, get the report here.

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