Huron Consulting Group (NASDAQ: HURN), a leading provider of business consulting services, today released the results of the 2013 IMPACT ® Benchmarking Survey, which was conducted in alliance with The General Counsel Forum. The fourth annual survey aims to help general counsel (GC) better understand the effectiveness of their operating processes. “The industry has experienced profound change and the stakes are exceptionally high for law departments. Law departments must continuously demonstrate their value while at the same time controlling or lowering costs,” said Joy Saphla, managing director and Huron Legal’s Advisory services leader. “The results of the 2013 IMPACT® Benchmarking Survey show that law departments with comprehensive management programs realize improved efficiency which contributes to the value of the department and reduces corporate legal spend.” Law departments with comprehensive management programs on average realized 30% lower total legal spend and 38% lower external legal spend than those without the comprehensive programs. The common denominators of these programs included defined outside counsel panels, monthly or quarterly budget reviews, matter level budgets, alternative fee arrangements, and e-billing technology. “It’s important for general counsel to understand their business model in the context of the whole sector,” said Bret Baccus, senior director, Huron Legal. “The Survey allows GCs to gauge their legal business operations strategy and programs against their peers’ and see more clearly the benefit of investing in operational efficiency programs.” The Survey data was collected from 71 companies of various size and industry. The majority were U.S. based but more than a third had some global operations. This year’s report includes discussions of best practices related to some of the findings and features a new focus on department staffing and organizational structure. Its results are indicative of today’s trends.
- Last Year’s Legal Spend Drivers: The most commonly cited reason for increased legal spend was a litigation event (72%), followed by complexity of workload (55%) and outside counsel usage (50%). Less than a third of respondents noted outside counsel rates as a driver of legal spend.
- Legal Spend Look Ahead: In the upcoming year, the majority of respondents expect legal spend to increase (41%) or stay the same (34%). The greatest percent of respondents predicting an increase (65%) were those whose companies had more than $10 billion in revenue.
- Matter Type Spend: For the first time in three years, Litigation was not the most commonly identified matter type for which spend was expected to increase. Topping the list were Ethics and Compliance (43%) and Merger, Acquisition, and Divestiture (39%).
- Shifting Priorities: Since the last survey, Ethics and Compliance increased in importance relative to other business priorities and was rated as the highest law department business priority in 2013 (2.82 on a scale of 1-3, with 3 being very important).