Big city law departments borrow lawyers on a volunteer basis from local law firms

Corporation Counsel for the city of Chicago has pushed to use no-cost lawyers from some of the larger law firms in the city to alleviate the department’s tight budget. In 2010, the city spent $25 million on outside counsel and something on the order of $37 million (its proposed 2012 budget), for its inside staff. Volunteer lawyers can make a difference in the external legal spend.

New York City has also dipped into the free talent pool of nearby firms. Since 2002, New York has saved approximately $84 million in legal fees by doing so. The city’s entire law budget is about $110 million a year so something like an average of ten percent of its budget was saved each year. This interesting practice of not-for-profit law departments comes from the ABA J., Dec. 2011 at 26.

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