Survey: Corporations Really Need Lawyers

It’s a bad time to be a big American company, but a pretty good time to be its law firm, according to a new survey. The average American company — average in the nine-figure range, at least — faces 305 lawsuits worldwide and spends 70 percent of its overall legal budget on litigation, according to Fulbright & Jaworski’s annual survey of U.S. litigation trends.

The third annual survey covered 422 in-house attorneys worldwide, asking about everything from caseloads to how well-prepared they are for e-discovery.

The goal was to probe corporate counsel’s concerns on litigation, including costs, types of cases and views of their outside counsel, according to the firm.

Among the findings:

  • Sixty-three percent of the companies surveyed said they undertook at least one internal investigation that required outside counsel.
  • Seventy percent of U.S. companies have brought actions as plaintiffs in the past year
  • The number of international disputes is rising: More than one-third of the companies said 20 percent of their dockets originate in foreign venues.
  • The winner for the heaviest litigation docket among American companies: the insurance industry. In this sector, companies face an average of 1,696 suits in areas ranging from product liability to coverage fights. Retail and energy firms were also on the higher end, reporting, on average, more than 330 per company annually.
  • U.K.-based companies reported significantly less lawsuits annually: an average of 178 suits, 63 of which were played out in the United States.

Overall, the new survey underscores just how thoroughly litigation is woven into the U.S. corporate culture, along with its high spending, said Stephen Dillard, chairman of Fulbright’s global litigation practice.

“Litigated disputes are a fundamental part of doing business,” he said.


Kellie Schmitt


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