New York, NY – LAWFUEL – Kirkpatrick & Lockhart LLP (K&L) continues its research into the concerns of larger corporate legal departments by releasing its survey findings on the pressing issues facing in-house attorneys. The Top of Mind™ Survey, K&L’s unique survey of senior in-house counsel of FORTUNE 500 and 1000 companies, reveals that while corporate governance is still an issue, the current focus ranks employment and employee issues at the top of the heap.
The survey also challenges the view that in-house counsel give priority to law firms that are culturally diverse. The survey establishes that law departments tend not to consider diversity a decisive issue with respect to hiring an outside law firm.
“K&L continues to undertake these surveys because successful collaborations with corporate counsel demand that we understand their professional challenges. Our survey reveals a virtual profile of the profession’s most pressing concerns at a time when the role of the corporate counsel could not be more important to America’s business community,” said Peter Kalis, Chair of K&L’s Management Committee.
Dr. Mark Greene of The Brand Research Company™, which conducted the survey on behalf of K&L, said, “K&L has separated perception from reality regarding the impact of diversity on the selection of outside counsel. The legal marketplace may have made great strides in terms of discussion and even intentions, but the research shows that when counsel is actually being chosen today, there is very little relationship between a law firm’s diversity and its likelihood of being selected to provide legal services.”
Key findings from the survey include:
1. Corporate governance takes second seat: In the immediate aftermath of Enron and WorldCom, corporate governance was last year’s hot topic. While there are still concerns, they are coming under control and corporate counsel are now becoming more concerned with employment and employee issues.
2. Diversity talk but not the walk: In spite of all the talk about it, diversity does not rank high on the list of factors considered by corporate legal decision makers when selecting a law firm. In fact, racial diversity ranked below effective communication, working as a team, hourly rates, and working with enjoyable attorneys.
3. Controlling costs still a struggle: The cost for outside law firms continues to rise. Once again, in-house counsel say that holding down costs, especially controlling outside counsel expenditures, are two of their biggest challenges.