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Do clients “open their purse strings” to pay for more good in-house lawyers?

David Krasnostein, the General Counsel of Australia’s 120+ lawyer National Australia Bank, explained in an interview that “when you brought in really good lawyers, your internal clients understood the value that they offered and they had to open their purse strings to pay for more.”

Dream on. For many legal departments, the headcount and costs hit a corporate budget, not a client group’s budget. Decisions to open the purse are made far away from the client’s purse. Furthermore, in my experience, clients resist the removal of lawyers supporting them, but they don’t typically clamor for more. Perhaps the wild card here is the quality Krasnostein presupposes; “really good lawyers” don’t come along to tempt the purse very often.

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