Out of 239 responding law departments, “as in past years, about 40% of in-house counsel have no work with foreign law firms.” [ACCA/Serengeti’s 2004 Managing Outside Counsel Survey states (page 15 of the Executive Summary]
Of the respondents in this study, 35 percent had revenues of less than $100 million, so one explanation for the counter-intuitive finding might well be that most of those small companies do not import or export significant amounts of goods or services. If your market is almost completely the United States, your company does not need law firms overseas.
Other reasons could explain the jingoistic statistic.
(1) Many US-based law firms have lawyers who can address commercial legal issues that arise in major trading markets. Hence, in-house counsel need not hire foreign firms to gain their counsel.
(2) That many overseas managers hire local counsel for their local needs is a common occurrence and could be the rationale for the 40 percent statistic.
(3) Finally, much international buying and selling takes place with documents in English and governing law that is generic or based on an American state; the corporate lawyers can handle those negotiations and issues without turning to foreign firms.