When a legal department goes hat in hand for a budget increase, having paid more than was projected that year for, say, outside counsel, clients accumulate and confirm stereotypes. Invidious beliefs about lawyers (to some degree, but not entirely, urban legend myths) find reinforcement. Here are some of those myths, which I have adopted from a thoughtful presentation by the general counsel at lawyer conference. The quotes are my own take.
Lawyers can’t manage. “You may be smart, but you couldn’t manage your way out of a paper bag.”
Lawyers run to outside counsel when they could handle it inside. “You’re a lawyer, so why aren’t you confident in their own experience and judgment?”
Lawyers are at fault when outside counsel overspend. “You direct them, don’t you, and review their bills?”
Lawyers ought to be offshored to India. “They speak English, have law degrees and they charge $31.50 an hour!”
Lawyers ought to be relocated to [name your low-cost jurisdiction]. “As a back office support function, these Fleet Street costs per square foot are exhorbitant!”
Lawyers deserve to have strict caps on their budgets and like us should to be forced to manage to them. “We can build a $20 billion space shuttle on a fixed cost, so why can’t you get us through a teensy-weensy class action for a fair amount agreed to up front?”
General counsel suffer these indignities but it doesn’t mean there are not kernels of truth in all of them.