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In-house counsel's biggest headache

In-house counsel's biggest headache 

Used with permission of the author:

Author: Jay Shepherd
CEO — Attorney
Shepherd Law Group
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
20 November 2007

The following article originally appeared in "Gruntled Employees" at www.gruntledemployees.com on 22 October 2007.

We spend a fair amount of time whaling on other law firms for things like hourly billing. But when a firm turns out a product that's valuable and useful, we want to make sure the firm gets its due. Ginormous (which should be a word) international law firm Fulbright & Jaworski released its Fourth Annual Litigation Trends Survey Findings last week, containing 52 pages of illuminating and actionable information generated by in-house counsel. Fulbright had an independent research firm survey 253 US corporate counsel and 50 UK in-house lawyers on everything from litigation costs and billing trends to regulatory matters and class actions. And what did in-house counsel report to be their leading legal headache?

(Wait for it ...)

Labor and employment cases.

Surprised? We're not. Oh, sure: securities litigation and patent litigation and class actions get more airtime. But every company has employees. (In a word: duh.) And if you have employees, you have employment issues.

According to the survey, 51% of respondents listed labor and employment matters as one of their greatest litigation concerns. Contracts was next at 41% (and some of those no doubt include things like noncompetes and nondisclosures). Regulatory matters (24%), securities litigation (22%), and intellectual property (also 22%) rounded out the top five of 16 categories (including "other").

Similarly, when asked about pending litigation matters, 43% cited labor and employment cases as among the three most common types. Contracts (34%) was the only other category to crack the litigation Mendoza line (20%).

At a time when many large law firms are scaling back their labor and employment departments, this area continues to keep corporate counsel awake at night. Hmmmm ...

There's a ton more data in the survey, which will likely lead to a few more posts on this site. In the meantime, you can get the survey findings free directly from Fulbright by clicking here. (You have to give up some contact information, but I think it's a fair trade.) You can then check out the detailed data here. Fulbright has a detailed press release and summary here.

Other blogs have also written about the survey. Check out Manpower's Mark Toth's entry here, Carolyn Elefant's post on Legal Blog Watch here, and Holden Oliver's piece in What About Clients? here.

As always, the moral is that lawyers should listen to their clients.

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