All five items I highlighted are important. The one that caught my eye, however, was the part about less work going to outside firms (it’s at the top of page 4 of the press release). At first blush, you’d think this is merely work being brought in-house. But there may be more going on here. If inside resources are relatively flat (a high likelihood today), then in-house counsel are doing something. Among many possibilities, here are four that come to mind:
(a) pulling back on more generic work (redefine as low-risk and perhaps non-legal);
(b) trying to re-use or re-cycle some work, and have it done by non-legal personnel (including clients);
(c) using technology to automate or streamline work; or
(d) have it done by “non-law firm” firms, whether here or offshore (flat rate or fixed price).
Whatever the reason, perilous times does one thing: it focuses the mind.
While I will develop this observation a bit more down the road, its significance to me boils down to this:
Some work taken away from law firms isn’t coming back any time soon.
And if this is indeed a growing trend, it has profound implications for law firms and legal departments alike.