In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

Recently in Outside Counsel Category

In House Job Wanted: Must Pay More Than $15 an Hour

Stephen R. Williams is not a math whiz, but he can do simple division.

As in-house counsel for hospitals, Williams recently calculated that he averaged 18-hour days for a week. He was practically doing resident doctors' hours.

After wiping limited sleep from his eyes, he realized that over a $100,000-salary year it would be about $15 an hour. That's right, in-house attorneys sometimes make less than burger flippers.

Company's Loss Turns Into Lawyer's Nightmare

There is a sleepless night in every lawyer's career.

For Donald J. McNeil, that night has probably lasted a long time. McNeil and company took the brunt of a heavy-handed slap in federal court.

If the lawyers weren't awake during the trial and appeal, they should be now. The appeals court blamed them for a $340,000 loss and sanctioned their client with opposing counsel's fees, too.

It's no secret that the legal profession, like every other industry, has not rid itself of the invidious scourge of sexism and discrimination. In fact, a recent study revealed that the not-so mythological "old boys club" plays a significant part in why female partners are selected less often than male partners by clients.

According to a recent study, the numbers are rather jarring. Male clients will choose a female partner to handle their matter only 17 percent of the time. Almost more shocking, when it's a female client, the number only increases to 25 percent. Interestingly, and making the dismal numbers even more disappointing, as Above the Law explained, the statistics on performance quality between male and female led teams of attorneys tend to be about equal. Additionally, single gender teams performed worse than teams that included both genders. 

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: