A consultant in France, Hélène Trink,recently teamed with a legal search firm (Equiteam) to publish a survey of French legal departments. The survey asked questions about budgets and management of outside counsel counsel. It obtained responses from 81 general counsel (Directeurs juridiques) in the fall of 2009.
From a list of nine cost-saving measures the respondents might have taken for 2009, the leading choices for reductions were outside counsel fees (honoraries des conseils, 80% selected), freezes on headcount replacement (frais de deplacement des jurists, 77%), bringing more work in-house (internalization des prestations juridiques, 51%), and terminations (nombre de jurists internes, 44%). The translations to English are mine.
Selected less frequently than those four budget trimmers were work longer hours inside (reunion/animation de l’equipe, 41%), train in-house lawyers (formation technique des juristes, 33%), cut salaries (remuneration des jurists internes, 33%), and delay technology investments (decalage dans le temps de projects informatiques, 26%).
All in all, a list quite similar to what US legal departments often undertook: cut external spending, clamp down on new hires and existing compensation, and work harder.