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Five methods whereby external counsel deliver their advice, with email surging in popularity during the past five years

Five years ago a large-scale survey of in-house attorneys tracked how those attorneys said they received legal advice from outside lawyers. They had five choices and were asked to select the two most common methods. Recently, Deloitte revisited that question in a similarly large survey and found a marked swing.

The first time, “legal and other advice was most often set out in formal written reports” 66% of the time. In today’s faster paced world, formal reports plummeted to 20%. Almost reversing those figures is “advice set out in an email” where the method was chosen five years ago by 23% of the respondents but soared last year to 76%. “Verbal advice over the phone” stayed constant (48% five years ago and 51% last year).

To round out the picture, Deloitte’s Global Corporate Counsel Report 2011 at 22, found that “verbal advice in a conference” slumped from 30% selected to 22% and “presentation style advice” held steady at 17% and 15%. In short, law firm lawyers shouldn’t write memos unless asked to specifically. Rather, make the default a concise e-mail.