FTSE 350 companies prepare to slash legal fees

UK law firms are to suffer a blow to the amount of work they receive from in-house lawyers, according to new research by Grant Thornton’s forensic and investigation services practice.

According to the research, over half of the FTSE 350 in-house legal teams surveyed plan on boosting their in-house legal teams over the next year.

These recruits may come directly from law firms, as Toni Pincott, partner at Grant Thornton, explained: “In recent years more lawyers have ‘jumped the fence’ to join in-house roles for a better work-life balance and new challenge… in-house legal teams are making use of their specialist practitioner by taking on more work than ever before.”

Currently 43 per cent of in-house teams spend more than £1m on general legal advice each year.

Dispute resolution is an area where law firms have traditionally been able to command high fees, yet according to the research, the majority of in-house lawyers will begin to focus on preventing disputes.

Sixty-eight per cent surveyed expected to spend more time on strategic issues over the next three years and 60 per cent focusing additional resources on risk reviews.

Pincott explained: “While international and contentious legal work looks likey to continue to be a good source of revenue for the foreseeable future, it will still be imperative that law firms identify new trends and services to sell to in-house legal teams in order to increase the level of work they receive.”

The construction, banking and finance sectors anticipate the highest internal growth over the next three years.