Canadian Lawyer

February 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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16 www.canadianlawyermag.com SPECIAL REPORT CORPORATE COUNSEL SURVEY Building relationships with corporate counsel in the time of COVID-19 Canadian Lawyer survey shows changes in external spend grew with need for pandemic-related expertise, writes Zena Olijnyk IN A YEAR that has been unlike any that law firms have experienced in recent memory, thanks to COVID-19, Canadian law firms saw their general counsel clients rely on them more than ever to get the specific information they needed to deal with the pandemic. Canadian Lawyer's sixth annual corporate counsel survey indicates clearly how in-house counsel needed expertise from the firms they have regularly used to walk them through pandemic minefields — everything from employment and labour law to cybersecurity. As Cheryl Satin, a partner with Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP in Toronto, says: "There was a sense of urgency in the early stage, much of it related to questions that needed a higher level of expertise to answer." This need for outside legal knowledge related to the pandemic shows up in the survey in answers to questions about in-house legal spending on external legal services. When respondents were asked about the amount of money that their in-house departments spent on external legal counsel in 2020, most categories saw an increase in spending from the previous fiscal year. The percentage of departments spending

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