When to send work to outside counsel

Ten Things: When to Send Work to Outside Counsel (and When to Bring it In-House)

As a longtime in-house counsel, I constantly debated when to send work to outside counsel and when to keep it (or bring it back in).  It was a surprisingly difficult task.   As an outside lawyer, my hope now is that my clients will want to send more work to me and the firm (hint!).  But my in-house lawyer DNA tells me that most general counsel are trying to find ways to keep more work with the legal department.  And the data backs me up here.  Around 40% of US-based legal departments moved work from outside counsel back in-house.  That is an incredible statistic as it means that not only are in-house departments keeping work, but they are more frequently taking it back from their outside lawyers.  While this change in direction may be primarily driven by budget forces, there are other factors at play.  This brings me to today’s edition of “Ten Things,” i.e., what factors should you look at when deciding when to send work to outside counsel and, more interestingly, when to bring it back: