What Corporates Want: depth of team
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What Corporates Want: depth of team

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High-earning businesses place most value on the depth of the external legal teams advising them, according to a survey of nearly 29,000 in-house counsel

In-house counsel handling intellectual property portfolios are usually responsible for a range of activities, from transactions to protection to enforcement.

So, it’s understandable that they want to work with law firms that can be one-stop-shops for all their needs.

Indeed, a survey by Managing IP+ and its sister brands revealed that depth of team, including the breadth of the team members’ subject-matter expertise, is high on the priority lists of in-house counsel when hiring external advisers.

Of the 28,669 corporate counsel who responded to the surveys, which were also conducted by ITR+ and IFLR+, 94% indicated that depth of team is important to them.

The Managing IP+ survey specifically also revealed that experienced and well-equipped teams are a high priority, with 89% of respondents answering that they are important or very important.

Subsequent conversations revealed different preferences for what in-house counsel want from their external advisers. For instance, the senior IP attorney at an IT company in Europe said she usually puts all her faith in the lead partner at the external adviser firm.

“We just need one point of contact who we can trust will bring in the resources they need to deal with our cases, whether internal or external,” she said.

However, she added that a firm that can offer a range of skills may come in handy. “That would mean I don’t have to onboard many different suppliers and I can use a single adviser for multiple activities.”

There are also counsel who pay keen attention to a firm’s internal resources.

For Atika Prasad, lead IP counsel at US-based grooming products company Wahl Clipper in India, the strength of a firm’s internal teams matters considerably.

According to Prasad, law firms that rely less on external resources ensure that sensitive client information stays in the hands of a few people.

“I only work with law firms that have in-house investigators. When a firm uses outside investigators, the chances of sensitive information leaking before an anti-counterfeit raid increases greatly,” she noted.

Firms that can demonstrate that their IP prosecution and enforcement teams work closely and can provide quick support to one another are also attractive to in-house counsel, she added.

It's clear that in-house counsel will only choose to work with law firms that can demonstrate how skilled their internal teams and leaders are. Surely, it can't be too hard to meet that requirement.


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Depth of team ranks high on the priority lists of in-house counsel across all regions when hiring external advisers.

Counsel from the Americas and APAC equally value strong teams with a diverse set of skills, with 96% of counsel from those regions flagging it as important or very important.

Those in the EMEA weren’t far behind, with 93% of the respondents finding it significant.

The Managing IP+ survey results mirror the findings of the broader survey across all brands.

Of those who found depth of team important or very important, APAC and the Americas tied for the top spot with 91%, followed by EMEA with 88%.

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Across all brands, the Americas produced the highest mean score at 90.9%, with APAC and EMEA trailing closely at 89.2% and 87.4%.

Global revenue

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In terms of revenue distribution, companies in the top two revenue brackets generated the most interest in depth of team, with 95% of survey participants in each category responding it was important or very important to them.

The data shows that companies with substantial revenues are more likely to spend their resources on strong teams that are well-equipped to handle complex disputes.

Companies in the bottom two revenue categories expressed slightly lower levels of interest in depth of team.

In the Managing IP+ survey, companies in the highest revenue bracket and those in the $50 million to $499.9 million earning segment expressed the most interest in depth of team, with 91% flagging it as important or very important.

The other two revenue categories showed slightly lower levels of interest, at 88% each.

The findings are more or less in line with the results of the broader survey, in which companies in the highest revenue categories secured the top spot in terms of interest in depth of team.

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Overall, across all brands, companies in the highest revenue bracket generated the highest mean score, at 89.2%.


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From an industry perspective, most sectors expressed high interest in depth of team, with 95% of them marking it as important or very important. These include financial services, power and utilities, professional services, real estate and construction, and telecoms.

An average score of nearly 95% across all industries demonstrates that in-house counsel highly value external advisers with knowledgeable and competent teams.

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Overall, across all brands, the power and utilities industry expressed the most interest, with a mean score of 89.2%. The financial services and telecoms industries weren’t far behind, with mean scores of 89% each.

Practice area

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As far as practice areas are concerned, financial and corporate lawyers and litigation counsel seem to be most keen on depth of team, with 95% of respondents saying it is important or very important.

Corporate counsel across all other practice areas also demonstrated high levels of interest – between 89% and 93%.

Overall, the high percentage points across the board suggests in-house counsel, regardless of their area of expertise, pay considerable attention to how knowledgeable and well-equipped are the external legal teams representing them.

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In terms of mean scores, financial and corporate law survey participants showed the highest interest, at 89%.


Through our primary research with in-house counsel representatives, we ask them to rate a range of attributes and their importance in decision-making when selecting outside counsel.

We have aggregated the responses from our practice area-specific surveys in 2022 and 2023 and analysed the results in this report series. The data highlights the extent to which in-house counsels’ views on these attributes differ between industries, regions, revenue sizes and practice areas.

In total we have analysed responses from over 25,000 in-house counsel respondents over the two-year period.

To read the previous instalment of What Corporates Want, click here.


Special Projects Editor Managing IP
Sukanya manages the special projects published on Managing IP, including the IP Ones to Watch, 50 Most Influential People in IP and What Corporates Want. She also covers all IP-related issues in Asia including trademark, copyright, patent and design matters.
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