Looks like companies in the U.S. and U.K. are expecting more litigation in the next year, but they don’t plan to deal with it by adding to their in-house counsel.
Fulbright & Jaworski just came out with its latest survey tracking litigation trends, and it says that more corporate lawyers than last year are expecting an increase in litigation in the next 12 months.
Details on that and other findings, after the jump ...
Of the corporate counsel respondents, 42 percent said they expected their companies would face an increase in legal disputes in the next 12 months. Last year, just 34 percent said that. Almost half of the big companies responding said they have significant in-house counsel departments, compared with a quarter of respondents last year, but only 11 percent predict they'll increase the number of their in-house lawyers over the next year.
Respondents most frequently explained the increase with economic reasons –- “Primarily driven by poor economy,” one respondent from a U.S. insurance company explained. “Causing the insureds to push issues that would otherwise not have been claims or been more easily resolved.”
Respondents also reported higher litigation costs this year –- 53 percent said their annual litigation cost (excluding any settlements) exceeds $1 million, compared with 43 percent last year. (Survey respondents ranged in size – 16 percent reported revenues under $100 million, 31 percent had revenues between $100 and $999 million, and 53 percent are at $1 billion or more.)
Other notable survey results include:
- About 40 percent of respondents reported more wage-and-hour, multi-plaintiff labor and employment cases than last year.
- The number of large company respondents retaining outside counsel for regulatory investigations dropped in the last year, from 63 percent to about half.
- Only 6 percent of lawyers in the health care sector reported more bankruptcy and reorganization litigation.
The survey, conducted from May through July by a Houston business research firm, polled 408 company lawyers –- mostly ones who call themselves general counsel or head of litigation. The report can be downloaded here.
— Kate Moser