Corporate legal departments continue to consolidate their panel of law firms. A report from Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions found law departments reduced their median number of outside firms and legal service providers by 16% at the height of the pandemic in 2020, before dropping another 8.6% in 2021.
Analysts are split on whether any economic downturn soon could further push clients to consolidate their law firms or spread more work around. Down cycles tend to produce more cost pressure and leave law departments scrambling for ways to save on legal spending. Some clients respond by outsourcing more work to more firms.
However, other analysts believe that while plenty of firms and clients will implement different strategies to deal with economic uncertainty, the balance of evidence suggests they will likely continue using the convergence model and consolidating the work. It is easier to manage fewer firms – and if a client is constantly pushing work around, the price of managing those moves increases. Day-to-day tasks and conversations can also become more streamlined when firms and businesses know each other well.