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We've known for a long time that companies are just exhausted from paying $500 an hour for a BigLaw firm they don't need so that senior partners can spend the day golfing. Now there are some numbers to back this up.

Inside Counsel recently reported on an HBR Consulting survey showing that, even as legal spending in total increased 2 percent over last year, inside spending increased 5 percent while outside counsel spending decreased by 2 percent.

How do you define the role of the modern in-house lawyer? It's probably some amalgamation of legal counsel, reputation manager, data security watchdog, and consigliore to the board. This person should also, of course, be good at watching the bottom line and reigning in outside counsel costs.

At this year's "The Lawyer" Awards (sponsored by Thomson Reuters, our parent company), the UK publication sought to recognize someone who excelled at the jack-of-all-trades role. Who did they pick for In-House Attorney of the Year? Sarah Nelson-Smith of Yum! Restaurants, the parent company of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut.

"Churn that bill, baby!"

Those words, possibly spoken in jest, made a lot of in-house counselors shiver. After all, controlling the bills for outside counsel is one of your main duties. But, the bigger the case, the harder it is to keep track of escalating costs.

Are you being charged market rate? Are the bumps in compensation for associates assigned to the case legitimate, or are you being gouged?

Last summer, we posted about UpCounsel, a relatively new online service that matches up small companies with attorneys for short-term projects, creating a bit of a revolution in the way companies find affordable legal services. Business owners can post free job listings on the UpCounsel website, and attorneys who have been registered, and screened, are able to bid on the projects. Then, based on attorney profiles, ratings, rates, and reviews, business owners are able to select an attorney for pending projects.

Last week, UpCounsel announced that it has added a new feature to its list of offerings: Outside General Counsel. Responding to customer feedback seeking long-term relationships with attorneys, UpCounsel now is in the business of pairing companies with prospective outside general counsel, who "know their companies and [are] true legal advisors."

3 Ethics Issues In-House Counsel Regularly Face

Traversing tricky ethical boundaries comes with the territory of an in-house counsel gig. Though in-house attorneys can often turn to their GCs to guide them in the right direction, it's also important to have an independently firm grasp of ethics rules.

Here are three common ethics issues in-house counsel face:

Alternative fee arrangements have been growing in popularity, especially among GCs of Fortune 1000 companies. With company budgets getting smaller, it's imperative that in-house counsel find more cost-effective ways to work with outside counsel on complex matters and litigation.

Shy about approaching outside counsel about alternative fee arrangements? Don't be. Chances are, you are not the first to raise the issue with her, and you won't be the last. If you are unsure about how to broach the subject, here are some of the most popular types of alternative fee arrangements. If you know what kinds of existing agreements are out there, you'll have something in your back pocket in case your outside counsel is at a loss.

We've seen the writing on the wall for some time, but the Harvard Business Review Blog Network recently published a post on the decreasing popularity of "pedigreed" white shoe firms as the go-to choice for in-house counsel. Increasingly, smaller firms are getting a bigger piece of the pie.

In 2012, American Bar Association President Laurel Bellows formed the ABA Gender Equity Task Force "to address the continuing gender equity issues that exist in the legal profession and in society at large."

In a recent publication, Power of the Purse: How General Counsel Can Impact Pay Equity for Women Lawyers, the ABA recommends six ways that General Counsel can influence gender equity at the firms they hire. Here's a brief rundown on the matter, in case you don't have time to read the whole thing.

Outside counsel. They are a necessary evil for the overburdened in-house attorney. When a matter crosses your desk that is beyond your expertise, or beyond your schedule, you pass it on to outside counsel, and cross your fingers. Will they overbill? More like, by how much will they overbill?

Meet Viewabill. The startup first got our attention a few months ago, right about the time the "churn that bill, baby!" email from DLA Piper leaked. At the time, we questioned the utility to outside counsel: after all, who wants your client looking over your shoulder at all times, calling or emailing every fifteen minutes about the latest time entry?

Executive research firm and events organizer Consero, together with Applied Discovery, Inc., released a report last week of their findings from 52 GCs from Fortune 1000 companies, who gathered to share best practices and learn from one another. The research conducted covered areas ranging from cyber security, social media and succession planning. But, the big take away had to do with outside counsel.

No big surprise, right? But BigLaw costs big bucks. Here are three things that the leading GCs are doing to keep their legal expenses in check.