Market Surges for Outside Privacy Counsel

By Donald Aplin

April 5 — A significant portion of corporations—76 percent—employ outside counsel for privacy and data security matters, according to a Bloomberg Law/International Association of Privacy Professionals survey study released April 5.

The survey report concluded, among other things, that:

  • a dedicated privacy team and subject matter experience are the most important qualities that companies look for in hiring outside counsel;
  • on average corporations spend nearly $170,000 annually on outside counsel handling privacy and data protection matters; and
  • outside privacy attorneys command high hourly rates, an average of $474 for transactional services, $539 for litigation and $623 for specialized privacy and data protection services.

    When company privacy pros shop for outside counsel, they primarily rely on referrals and personal relationships unless the company already has an outside law firm in place.

    Privacy by Design Work

    The survey found that privacy pros in companies generally don’t hire outside counsel for operational tasks, such as privacy impact assessments and privacy by design application. At the same time, significant opportunities for lawyers to expand their revenue may be in advising companies on privacy by design and privacy engineering initiatives, the report said.

    The amount spent for outside privacy counsel increases with the size of the company with large-sized companies (25,000 or more employees) spending the most. But medium-sized companies (5,001 to 25,000 employees) are the most likely to have increased budgets for spending on outside privacy counsel, the report said.

    The survey was conducted in January and the report is based on the replies of 353 privacy pros.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Donald G. Aplin in Washington at

    To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jimmy H. Koo at

    For More Information

    The survey report, “The Market for Data Privacy Legal Services" is available at .