I see several reasons for briefing out:
Q: Other than IP litigation, what other kinds of matters do you typically send to outside counsel?
A: Pretty much all of our litigation -- including HR matters and commercial contract disputes -- goes to outside counsel.
Q: Approximately how big is Seagate's corporate law department? Has there been a recent trend in terms of either reducing or expanding the size of the law department?
A: Our department numbers approximately 50, including both lawyers and non-lawyer staff. Seagate has recently gone through some reductions, and the legal department was affected by that.
Q: What kinds of matters that you deal with are more efficiently and effectively handled in-house rather than by outside counsel?
A: There are a whole host of activities that I think are better handled by inside attorneys and that are also accomplished on a more cost-efficient basis. Those would include all of the counseling on HR matters, all general corporate matters and the negotiation of commercial contracts, to name just a few. These are the kinds of things where inside attorneys can work closely with our clients to the point where we understand the issues to a degree that would be impossible for outside counsel to achieve on anything like a cost-effective basis.
- too much work and not enough lawyers
- insufficient expertise internally
- doing the work would be a poor utilisation of in-house lawyers
Briefing out litigation is a good example of the last point - litigation is rarely part of core business (even if you're an insurance company) and your in-house lawyers have been hired on the basis of how they fit core business needs.
Litigation is also an example of the second point - a property company doesn't need to employ experienced litigators, because litigation is (hopefully) infrequent.
As for the first point, it seems that many large organsiations brief out about 60% of their legal work. That implies that the working hours of in-house lawyers are largely of their own choosing, since they could easily double their workload (and hours) and still not get all the legal work done. Therefore an in-house lawyer needs to decide what is an appropriate workload for his or her life.