General counsel: law firms are failing us

In-house counsel have slammed law firms for a lack of business awareness as companies struggle to avoid disputes.

In-house counsel are increasingly looking for early intervention to avoid disputes escalating to litigation, but are finding private practice firms sorely lacking in the area, according to a survey by Grant Thornton’s forensic and investigations services practice.

The survey of 63 in-house lawyers found a third wanted to spend more time and money on dispute avoidance, while nearly 90 per cent of the respondents said the company’s board was in favour of devoting more resources to the practice.

However the survey also found in-house counsel were reluctant to involve private practice firms in dispute avoidance, citing high fees, lack of business understanding, and a “litigious mindset”.

Forensic and investigations services partner Toni Pincott said “As growth in the traditional litigation market is currently static, law firms ought be motivated to become involved in dispute avoidance and need to promote their expertise in these areas and showcase how they can support corporate clients.

“They also need to rethink how they charge for these services – this is an area where hourly rates will just not be acceptable.”