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News: Survey of Chief Legal Officers Shows Greater Emphasis on Paralegals

Over 200 general counsels participated in the Altman Weil 2012 Chief Legal Officer (CLO) Survey which has just been published. According to this report, general counsels are busy re-negotiating outside counsel fees, shifting work to lower-priced law firms, increasing in-house capacity, opting for alternative service providers and using new technology — all to develop a more cost-effective legal services model.

Below, we have compiled some of the most interesting results that directly affect paralegals.

—— Internal cost issues ——

According to the survey, the methods of cost control that proved most effective were negotiating price reductions with outside counsels and shifting the work distribution in-house.

More specifically, 36% shifted in-house work from lawyers to paralegals or other paraprofessionals.

—— Internal efficiency improvement ——

When asked what actions they had taken to improve internal efficiency in the last twelve months, CLOs identified greater use of technology tools as the most often used and most effective method to achieve efficiency goals.

Other efficiency enhancers were greater use of paralegals and other paraprofessionals (for 46.7% of respondents), project staffing with contract or temporary lawyers, outsourcing to non-law-firm vendors and project management training.

Additionally, for 27.9% of general counsels questioned for the survey, greater use of paralegals and other paraprofessionals was the change that yielded the greatest improvement in terms of efficiency.

—— Trends regarding law departments workforce ——

The good news here is that, within the next 12 months, 25% of law departments plan to hire more paralegals, and only 3% plan to decrease the number of paralegals in their workforce.

These survey results on staffing and spending reinforce findings on the shifting balance of work between law firms and in-house lawyers and confirm that paralegals are likely to face quite a bright future within law departments over the next few years.