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Ten plausible consequences of axing in-house lawyers

Risks from reductions in force among the lawyers of a legal team include the following:

  1. Increases in time to accomplish tasks, reduction or delay in services, for example, contracts or patent filings, and any contractual work
  2. More legal work pushed back to clients to handle or simply not done
  3. Pressures to spend more on external counsel to compensate
  4. Client dissatisfaction from slowness in turnaround, responsiveness or quality of work
  5. Difficulties retaining and hiring staff
  6. More mistakes made
  7. Difficulties in implementing new arrangements, since everyone is too stretched to think or change
  8. Burn-out of legal staff from over-work
  9. Change-management obstacles, such as the hibernation of initiatives on technology, training, diversity, pro bono or family-friendly policies
  10. Departures of the most talented lawyers, who might succumb to opportunities in a less stressed situation

Since you can’t measure the risks avoided by lawyers who practice in-house, you can’t measure the risks added on when you lay off those lawyers (See my post of March 9, 2009: the hidden and high costs of layoffs; and Feb. 5, 2009: layoffs with 7 references.).