Originally Published in Corporate Counsel | July 12, 2013 | By Lisa Shuchman
The Consero Group’s new “2013 Spring General Counsel Survey,” which addresses several areas of concern to in-house counsel at U.S. companies, has found that 61 percent of Fortune 1000 general counsel are not satisfied with the rates they pay to their outside counsel—a sign that economic pressures are forcing alternative fee arrangements to again become an important issue in corporate board rooms.
The survey, compiled by the executive events organizer Consero Group in partnership with Applied Discovery, also found that 61 percent of the GCs surveyed already use alternative fee arrangement for outside counsel, but 60 percent said they plan to further increase their use of such arrangements.
“Alternative fee arrangements and reining in costs of outside counsel are not new topics, but the appetite for alternative arrangements and for more efficient counsel hasn’t decreased,” Consero’s Chief Executive Officer Paul Mandell told CorpCounsel.com “In fact, there had been a lull in this discussion in recent years but it appears to again be gaining steam.”
Mandell said there is an opportunity now for law firms to cater to this interest in order to increase business.
The general counsel survey also addresses such areas as cybersecurity, social media, and succession planning. It found that nearly one-third (31 percent) of the GCs surveyed reported that their companies experienced a cybersecurity breach in the past 12 months. And while 77 percent said their companies are prepared for cyber attacks, 31 percent said their companies are not prepared to defend against intellectual property theft.
“Cybersecurity is clearly on the radar of general counsel, but IP theft is a problem that goes beyond cyber theft, and companies still have a lot of work to do,” Mandell said.
Other findings of the survey, which was conducted at Consero’s invitation-only May 2013 General Counsel Forum in San Diego, included the fact that most GCs (81 percent) said they were satisfied with their company’s social media policy.
“This is a big change from where we were two years ago, when many companies had no social media policy in place,” Mandell told CorpCounsel.com.
The survey also found that 69 percent of GCs have not identified a successor to head up the legal department. “This isn’t surprising, given the changing role of general counsel,” Mandell said. “A GC today has to be woven into the strategic business affairs of a company, so finding a successor is a lot more complicated.”