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Monthly rates for outside general counsel services typically range from $1,500 to $10,000 depending on the legal assistance needed. Outside General Counsel aims to develop into a strategic partner for your company, assisting it in expanding by controlling risk and seizing possibilities. But to build a long-term, trustworthy relationship and a knowledge of the business, this active involvement is only conceivable when legal fees are reasonably priced to allow the business to incorporate its legal counsel in day-to-day decision-making.

Tips to Reduce Outside General Counsel Cost

The indicator that most businesses look at first when assessing the success of their legal departments is cost control. And it seems logical to start there when looking for cost-saving solutions because the biggest line items frequently lead toward outside counsel agreements. However, the best course of action is rarely as straightforward as limiting all work to in-house attorneys and low-bid law firms. The word to keep in mind is value rather than cost.

Consider the more comprehensive approach mentioned below for a more long-lasting solution to cut your spending on outside counsel.

E-Billing and Budget Predictions for Legal Cost Management

The price of e-billing tools has significantly decreased. Even the tiniest legal department should have access to an e-billing solution to streamline the billing and payment procedures. It's acceptable if you have to complete it by hand.

Implement a monthly procedure where you ask outside counsel to report what they recently spent in the previous month and what they anticipate spending this month, regardless of "how" you monitor invoicing.

A monthly budget prediction clarifies and enables you to make proactive real-time cuts or adjust expenditure priorities as needed. It also prompts you to discuss the costs of drivers with your outside counsel. Most outside counsels are eager to talk about spending and strategies to cut costs because they would rather have these discussions in advance than with a dissatisfied client.

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How to Choose the Best Law Firm

Being willing to relocate jobs is the fastest way to reduce costs. Move the work to a firm better suited for what you require and give cost savings that justify the shift if you are unhappy with the legal firm or just realized you sent a low-value assignment to a high-dollar firm in error. If the present company can match the cost savings, you might want to give them a chance to keep the business.

Develop your stable of boutique and specialized businesses next. In-house lawyers frequently refer cases to specific firms without properly considering the fit between cost, complexity, or risk. Be mindful of where and why certain tasks are sent. You might prefer to hire a particular business or lawyer for reasons other than cost, and that's great.

Consider your options carefully before selecting the firm. Not only will you make a better choice, but you'll also start teaching the next group of department leaders how and why to do so.

Outside Counsel Billing Policy for Cost Management

Put one in place and provide it to counsel with each new matter or as an annual update if you don't already have an outside counsel billing policy. What you pay for and do not pay for will be made clear by this policy. For instance, never pay for food, transportation services, or online research tools unless a representative of the business is present or unless it has been approved in advance. Additionally, retain the right to reject any invoices not received three months after the job was completed.

Making sure that only the good work gets to their desks is the first guideline for cutting back on outside counsel spending. Although each business will have a slightly different definition of "right," specialization, complexity, risk, and scope should all be considered. In general, you should reserve law firm engagements for cases that best meet the requirements.

Key Queries in Aligning Task Value with Resource Expense

What Tasks Are Automatable?

Not all tasks in the legal department's inbox need to be completed by a lawyer. These low-risk, simple inquiries that are frequently repetitious (and occasionally unnecessary) should never appear on a legal firm invoice. They should ideally be kept away from your in-house lawyers as well.

You might equip non-legal personnel with all the tools they require to do lower-value activities independently with a few cleverly designed systems, tools, and training. For instance, a few hours spent standardizing and arranging recruit documentation might essentially automate away an entire category of labor coming from your HR department.

Which Tasks Can Be Outsourced?

The second type of job to consider is low-risk, simple, but high-volume work that needs an attorney's attention. You might entrust an alternative legal service provider with processes like document review, contract management, and e-discovery.

Compared to standard outside counsel charges, this legal process outsourcing (LPO) is much less expensive. It can also free up significant internal resources, which is vital.

What Can Be Insourced?

Redistributing their work to your in-house attorneys is likely the easiest method to cut outside counsel fees. But if you don't fully utilize automation and outsourcing possibilities initially, you might never have the luxury of using this choice. Staff attorneys could become overly enmeshed in time-consuming but low-value tasks.

But let's imagine you can take in more high-risk, high-complexity issues. How wide is your perimeter? The best-match concerns for your in-house team will typically focus on a recurring topic and have a manageable scale. For instance, the large-scale, unusual lawsuit would probably benefit from outside counsel.

Naturally, the decision will be based on your current areas of experience. But it's also important to consider the long-term financial implications of adding more expertise to the team. For instance, hiring a flexible local expert could be far less expensive when entering a new business region than relying on a panel of law firms.

What are the Effective Engagement Strategies to Control Legal Costs?

The focus can then go to efficiently managing relationships with outside counsel once you can confidently state that the good work is being assigned to the right people. Here are a few tools to gradually reduce your legal spending.

  • Publish More RFPs

    Qualified service providers are invited to compete against one another for a specific piece of business through a request for proposals (RFP) process. You might be able to negotiate better law firm pricing by tendering your legal work in this manner than you initially anticipated. The variety of alternative ideas put up by participants may also influence your strategic thinking unexpectedly.

  • Introduce AFAs

    There are other methods of estimating the cost of legal services outside billable hours. Alternative fee arrangements (AFAs), like blended rates, fixed fees, capped fees, and retainers, can all cut a significant amount of money from your annual legal expenditure.

    These discussions should, at the very least, lead to more considered cost projections and more predictable budget management.

  • Consolidate Internal Processes

    Setting precise and concise specifications is one factor that you can always manage. Miscommunication on the magnitude of the matter might swiftly result in unanticipated costs.

  • Establish (Real) Budgets

    Budgets need to be viewed as more than just guesses or predictions. The team can rely on and analyze the data to develop detailed, reliable cost forecasts. For their work to be finished within a budgeting form, your law companies should also give you free estimates. Both timekeeper rates and anticipated timelines should be included in this.

Key Terms Related to Outside General Counsel Cost

  • General Counsel (GC ): This term is Also known as the Chief Legal Officer (CLO), this C-suite official provides the business with legal and risk management advice. The internal legal team is supervised by a GC.
  • Invoice : A list of the legal services a law firm performed, along with a statement outlining the total sum owed, is an invoice.
  • Outside Counsel : Law firms hired to provide legal services to a company that in-house legal departments cannot handle are known as outside counsel (also known as vendors). Legal operations teams oversee connections with these businesses.
  • Spend Management : It is the act of keeping track of, evaluating, and reducing the expenditures that internal legal departments and outside counsel incur.


Contract evaluation necessitates a distinct strategy because the amount of the agreement is unaffected by the likelihood of the deal concluding. ContractsCounsel lawyers can categorize deal values using written, established criteria to choose the best outside counsel.

ContractsCounsel is not a law firm, and this post should not be considered and does not contain legal advice. To ensure the information and advice in this post are correct, sufficient, and appropriate for your situation, please consult a licensed attorney. Also, using or accessing ContractsCounsel's site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and ContractsCounsel.

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