Why the assumption that “cost pressure” always comes from outside (above) the law department?

It bothers me that the common refrain goes like this: “Pressure from the CEO or the CFO forces the general counsel to cut costs.” Beyond cavil, the two top executives often mandate budget cuts and what functional head voluntarily signs up for headcount reductions or a lower spending limit? Pressure probably does come more often than not from outside the legal function.

On the other hand, I like to think that responsible general counsel themselves understand prudent stewardship of shareholder assets and act on their duty and desire to reduce costs. They are not porky, puddn’head and profligate; they keep what they believe is the right degree of pressure on law firms to deliver worthwhile services and watch their internal pennies.

My point is that general counsel are not merely and only reactive to demands from the boss or the holder of the purse strings.

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