In 2011, Lex Mundi and LexisNexis conducted a Web-based survey of chief legal officers and other in-house counsel at companies throughout the world in 15 different countries, the largest number of which were within the manufacturing and finance industries. The goal of the survey was to study the ways in which corporate counsel locate outside counsel in foreign jurisdictions for both single- and multiple-jurisdictional matters. The survey also probed related issues, such as countries and legal areas, where the volume of work is predicted to grow, as well as the status of the in-house legal department.
Companies are now handling a substantial amount of their legal work in-house rather than hiring outside counsel. In fact, according to the survey, 74% of the companies indicated that more than half of their company’s legal work is done in house. Moreover, these companies expect their in-house counsel divisions to either remain the same or grow over the coming year.
With that said, three quarters of the companies surveyed have ongoing international/cross-border legal matters. And, more than 20% of the companies surveyed spent the majority of their 2010 legal budget on matters in foreign countries. The companies named litigation/arbitration as the number one legal issue faced in foreign jurisdictions, with intellectual property matters, corporate matters and labor/employment matters trailing closely behind. They also indicated an expected rise in the number of international/cross-border legal matters, specifically in the United States (35%), Brazil (30%), Western Europe (28%), China (28%) and Canada (25%).
Not surprisingly, these companies turn to someone they know for a referral in foreign jurisdictions, including their local law firm (56%), another in-house lawyer (44%) or current counsel with international offices (30%). And, when they have recurring work in another jurisdiction or country, 60% contact the same firm repeatedly. For both primary outside counsel and other firms within their home country, most of the companies claim to be satisfied (86% and 85%, respectively), but the satisfaction level goes down for law firms outside their home country. Further, while these companies have consolidated law firms for legal issues in their home country, they use more firms for their international issues.
Among those companies surveyed, LexMundi is the most recognized law firm network. Moreover, the level of familiarity with Lex Mundi (83%) was more than three times that of the next network (25%). In addition, 40% of the companies have worked with a Lex Mundi member firm, and 9% have selected a Lex Mundi firm to work with them solely based on its membership in Lex Mundi.
Finally, nearly two-thirds of the companies have used an international or global firm to coordinate a multi-national matter, while only 28% have used a law firm network. However, while both groups were satisfied with the experience, the level of “very satisfied” companies was higher (38%) for the networks than for the international firms (24%).
With the steady rise in maintaining legal matters in-house, the level of satisfaction these companies have with law firm networks and the level of familiarity they have with Lex Mundi, an increasing number of in-house counsel should consider Lex Mundi when seeking outside counsel and coordinating a multi-national matter.