Corporate Law Department Hiring is Up and Expense Cuts Continue to Decline, According to New ALM Survey

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NEW YORK, Sept. 26, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In another sign that America's largest companies are showing more optimism about future revenues, a new survey from ALM Legal Intelligence found that corporate law departments are hiring new lawyers at a rate not seen since prior to the 2008-2009 recession.

ALM's Law Department Metrics Benchmarking Survey (2013 Edition) -- which analyzed data from 70 in-house law departments at U.S. companies with median global revenues of $3.3 billion -- found that 59 percent of respondents hired new lawyers in the past year, up from 51 percent in last year's survey, and just 44 percent and 39 percent in the prior two years.

Moreover, the survey found that just 21 percent of respondents are planning on budget cuts in the coming year, down from 24 percent in 2012, and 28 percent and 33 percent in 2011 and 2010 respectively.

"This survey benchmarks continued positive momentum for corporate law departments, particularly the encouraging signs that cuts in staffing and expenses have reversed trend lines and we're now seeing cautious budget increases," said Kevin Iredell, vice president of ALM Legal Intelligence.

Another key finding of this year's survey is that the percentage of corporate law departments using alternative fee arrangements (AFAs) to compensate their outside law firms continues to grow at a very modest rate. In the past year, 82 percent of American companies used some form of AFAs with their outside counsel, up from 79 percent and 72 percent in the two prior years. However, the majority of law departments (58 percent) are still very limited users of AFAs, employing them for less than 20 percent of their total outside counsel spending.

"We often hear frothy market discussions that suggest corporate legal departments are just dabbling with AFAs," said Kris Satkunas, director of strategic consulting with the LexisNexis® CounselLink® team, which sponsored the survey. "However, we continue to see a steady stream of indications demonstrating that as in-house counsel gain experience structuring alternative legal projects, their interest in exploring more uses of AFAs grows."

The survey was conducted by ALM Legal Intelligence and was sponsored by the CounselLink business. CounselLink is a leading cloud-based software for Enterprise Legal Management which includes matter management, legal spend management, legal holds and consulting services for business process innovation and benchmarking. Click here to download a free copy of the survey report:

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Source: ALM