I was having a discussion with a General Counsel a few months ago. He was thinking of hiring a lawyer to oversee the company’s litigation. He was thinking of hiring a lawyer with 3 to 4 years experience. It got me thinking. Will this young lawyer be able to make better decisions or even recommendations than I would? Boy, I sure hope not. Otherwise those 20 years of additional experience under my belt wouldn’t count for much. But what would this young lawyer bring to the table that I wouldn’t—the only thing is lower compensation. He could be hired for less than I could. But would I undertake the management assignment for the net cost of hiring this young lawyer (salary and benefits)? Probably. Would the company gain by having someone with greater experience making decisions and recommendations? Almost certainly.
This same analysis works for general counsel who are not litigators by training or trade, but suddenly (or not so suddenly) have a significant litigation docket to oversee. Indeed, the same analysis works for any area of the law where the in-house team does not have equal or greater expertise than the lawyers being hired. And it certainly makes sense for smaller law departments which do not have the resources to hire top talent in all substantive areas in which legal work is done.
Lots of projects and job functions are being outsourced these days. Maybe outsourcing part of the legal function is an idea whose time has come.