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Legal Work Is an Inside Job Now

If you felt the ground shifting, it was not an earthquake. That was the playing field changing law practice.

According to a new report, more than half of the legal work at companies is being done in house. That's bad news for outside counsel.

On the other hand, that is good news for general counsel, legal operators, and others who are rolling with the changes.

Project Management for In-House Counsel

General counsel are naturals at project management, even though they may not realize it.

It's like the kid who has a natural pitching arm, but only throws rocks. They need to get out of the corn field and onto the playing field.

At a time when more law firms have project managers, companies need in-house lawyers with comparable skills. It's about managing the teams.

We might all know that lawyering is secretly a service industry job. In the business world, lawyers are all too often reminded of this fact. And while our fragile egos tend to be okay with being service industry employees thanks to the high price tag associated with legal services, being commoditized might make some lawyers cringe.

Unfortunately for those business lawyers that cringe at the thought of being a commodity, the group of corporate overlords at PricewaterhouseCoopers are leading the charge to make temporary in house legal services easier to access for companies with budgets that range from large to larger.

Microsoft Plans to Phase Out Billable Hours

If you are lucky enough to have Microsoft as a client, don't complain that the company will not pay your hourly fees.

The company has announced that it will no longer pay hourly attorney's fees, opting for alternative billing arrangements with select law firms. It's a two-year project, but the future is almost here.

As in-house counsel know, the alternative fee agreement is the new normal. Outside counsel should consider themselves lucky to get the business.

When you choose an outside counsel, you do it after vetting the firm, and the attorneys that will be in charge of your matter. But when that firm decides to merge with another firm, or your specifically chosen outside counsel decides to move to a new firm, or hang their own shingle, what's an in-house attorney to do?

While it might be natural to panic and preemptively clear your calendar when you find out that your outside counsel is switching firms or their firm is merging with another practice, it should not require you to go into crisis, or damage control, mode. You don't need to frantically restart the search for new outside counsel ... yet. Remain calm, gather as much information as possible about what's going on, and plan accordingly.

GCs Share Data on Law Firms to Spur Innovation

General counsel from 25 major companies are sharing data about their law firms, including billing rates, practice areas, and other business information.

The companies include Mastercard, Panasonic, Paypal, and others across the corporate spectrum. They are looking for more efficient legal services, and sending a message to outside counsel that times are changing.

Corporate clients have increasingly kept more matters in-house and outsourced work to legal service providers in recent years, and now they want to communicate about the changes. In their open letter, the general counsel said the industry has "struggled to innovate."

After a Data Breach: What Not to Do

What should you do immediately after a data breach? 1) Erase your browser history. 2) Go out for a few drinks. 3) Look for a new job.

Just kidding. But seriously, there are some common mistakes people make after discovering a data breach. Here are a few things not to do:

Tight Budgets Put Squeeze on IP Firms

When a sandstorm is coming, it's good to be a camel.

In the story, the camel inched its way into an Arab's tent for protection. First its nose, then the front feet, and finally its whole body pushed the Arab out.

Likewise, as intellectual property budgets have shrunk, companies have moved more legal work in-house and outsourced other jobs to legal service providers. In the mix, IP law firms have found themselves even more on the outside looking in.

U.S. Companies Outspend Everyone on Legal

It's a scene from a zombie apocalypse movie, but with thousands of undead attorneys walking the streets, arms out-stretched, grabbing at anyone in their way.

It's not that hard to image in the United States, which has more lawyers than any other country. And according to a new report, American companies dramatically outspend the rest of the world on legal services.

Talk about a corporate nightmare!

If the legal profession ever becomes more representative of America's demographics, it might be because of in-house lawyers like you. More and more, major corporate legal departments are requiring that their outside counsel invest in diversity.

The most recent corporate client to flex some pro-diversity muscle is Facebook. This weekend, the company institute a new diversity mandate for its outside counsel, the New York Times reports. Under the new policy, teams handling legal matters for Facebook must be at least one-third minority or female.