For general counsel, little needs to be said about the constantly increasing cost of outside counsel, and there is little hope that the economic downturn will do anything more than temporarily slow the increases. Moreover, the slow economy will step up the pressure on companies to reduce their legal costs.
Alternate billing arrangements have become more common but still account for only a small percentage of outside counsel billings, and those arrangements do not guarantee lower long-term costs. Moving work to smaller firms or firms in geographic locations with lower rates can help, but only so much. There are transition costs and risks, and only some sorts of matters may be movable.