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A decline in legal spending by large companies is about to be reversed, according to a new survey of Fortune 1000 companies.

The study by market research firm BTI Consulting says large companies will increase legal spending on outside counsel nearly 5 percent over the next six months, according to a press release. The top areas for growth in legal spending will be in the areas of regulatory compliance (up 5.8 percent), bankruptcy (up 2.6 percent), securities and finance (up 2.1 percent), and employment (up .7 percent), an executive summary says (PDF).

The projected increase in spending follows a significant drop in legal spending last year and in the first six months of 2009. When the expected increase is taken into account, overall legal spending is expected to decline just 1.4 percent for the year.

In a press release, Michael Rynowecer, president of BTI Consulting, calls the findings “a big ray of sunshine in what has been a very stormy environment.” He cautions, however, that some law firms won’t benefit from the increase in spending.

“Rather than a wholesale recovery, we are seeing a shift of resources to specific firms and practices that are well-positioned,” he said in the press release. “Large companies are sharing this renewed spending with a smaller group of law firms than just six months ago. Those firms caught unaware or unprepared for this shift will continue to face significant challenges and not reap the benefits of this increased spending.”

The study is based on 370 interviews with corporate counsel at Fortune 1000 companies that average $19.4 million in outside counsel spending.




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