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General Counsel being asked to cut costs

Posted by: Laurence Simons 25/04/13

There's always some way to make money stretch a little bit further, even if they end up being inconvenient or a little embarrassing. For instance, I used to know someone who, when making a few cups of tea for visitors, would always use the same teabag four or five times, meaning that only one bag was expended in making the round. This is obviously the work of a mad person, but nevertheless proves the point that savings can always be made somewhere.

General Counsel across the globe are finding out the truth of this adage, as the leaders of their organisations encourage them to make their funds stretch further, according to a new survey from Legal Week.

While they may not need to resort to sharing the teabags around just yet, it is clear that the downturn in the world economy has had an impact on the sector - one area where this is especially clear is in their dealings with external advisers.

In the antediluvian years prior to the current financial problems, these professionals were given a degree of leeway, but nowadays they are closely monitored by in-house lawyers to ensure they are providing value for money and not using three bags of tea in their brew to make sure it's strong enough. And with budgets set to fall even further over the next two years, we are unlikely to see a reversal in this trend, either for beverages or legal advice.

Adam McArthur, AstraZeneca senior counsel for strategic partnering and business development, said: "It always depends on the transaction as to whether we would look to take more work in-house. In any matter, our objective is to keep both our in-house team and any external advisers pretty lean, and appropriately staffed." Unfortunately, he was not questioned on his opinions about hot drinks.