A new report by professional services firm BDO USA suggests that more than 70 percent of in-house counsel “plan on leveraging technology in the next year to streamline legal operations” – and that outside counsel that are unable to adapt to the technology will likely be replaced. This information comes to us via an April 11, 2019 article in law.com, which explains that the report – based on a survey of 100 senior in-house lawyers at major companies across industries – has found that “in-house counsel are making it a priority to leverage technology and [an estimated 36%] are considering changing outside counsel in the coming months.”
George Socha, managing director at BDO, says it appears that the desire of in-house counsel to change the outside firms they work with is based in part on the unprecedented pressure to “live and die by metrics,” combined with “lack of innovation” on the part of outside firms, as well as firms’ pricing models.
It is clear that it is impossible any longer to survive as outside counsel if you are not on top of relevant technology. And not just any relevant technology: Socha says that “firms are now expected to use technology that in-house counsel has in place,” thereby allowing companies to improve their control, and reduce risk. “Control” and “risk” are major considerations, as more than half of the surveyed companies reported “data breach” as their major legal threat.
The article quotes BDO Partner Stephanie Giammarco as saying that, moving forward, “corporate counsel will not only have to deal with the increasing quantity and complexity of compliance obligations, but also greater standards of accountability and transparency of them from external stakeholders.”
The implications for outside counsel are clear: opportunities abound, but only for those individuals and firms who are fully cognizant of the legal and related technology with which their preferred clients work.
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