Here are the facts according to Law Society of NSW statistics: 

In October 2012, 4,794 solicitors worked in corporations. This represented 18.8% of the 24,493 solicitors in NSW that held Practising Certificates. 

In December 2017, 6,119 solicitors worked in corporations. This represented 19.2% of the 31,946 solicitors in NSW that held Practising Certificates. 

The proportion of lawyers working in-house has hardly changed in the past five years.  

Last year, The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Australia published: 2017 ACC Australia Benchmarks and Leading Practices Report.

ACC’s research found:

The average total legal spend for ANZ [Australian and New Zealand] in-house legal departments has increased from $3.1m in 2008 to $4.3m in 2017. A breakdown of the average legal expenditure by internal and external legal spend reveals:

• External legal spend has increased from $1.8m in 2015 to $2.6m in 2017, representing a 30% increase. This increase is likely contributed to by the fact that in-house legal departments are turning to law firms to help navigate an increasingly complex regulatory environment and law firms’ annual rising charge-out rates.

• Internal legal spend has increased from $1.44m in 2015 to $1.7m in 2017, representing a 15% increase. Likely contributors of this increase include headcount growth and CPI salary increases that account for 88% of in-house legal departments’ internal legal spend.

• Internal legal spend accounts for 40% of in-house departments’ total legal spend in 2017 compared to 53% in 2015.

It is no surprise then, that the majority of organisations (80%) report pressure to reduce external legal spend. As a result, most of organisations (80%) also rate project management as an important tool, particularly for improving the efficiency of in-house legal departments.

External legal spend increased from 47% to 60% of total legal spend over two years. 

In-house has in the past experienced growth as a proportion of the entire profession but the numbers show that it is a myth that this is continuing in today’s market. 

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