In-House Counsel’s Latest Thoughts on Hiring Smaller Firms
January 25, 2013
Was talking recently with an in-house lawyer who controls a national litigation docket about the process of finding cost-effective representation in local and regional firms versus defaulting to the seeming safety and ease of finding lawyers in higher-rate national shops. I mentioned the vetting attendant to membership in the better national networks of independent firms and ability to find great lawyers there at lower rates. He went that route and wrote me back:
“Thanks again for the referral. Almost a case study – recommendation from someone you trust on a small matter, they do a good job, don’t gouge, earn trust, evolves into bigger matters. It’s funny because I was discussing this exact issue with our CLO and some of our senior guys the other day. CLO is from (a 50-lawyer Midwest firm), other guys are from (big firms in NYC), and was interesting to hear the biases. I think that once we get over the rate, and specialty discussions, it really comes down to marketing yourself as doing something very well, and selling that. It seems more difficult for the smaller firms to be the jack of all trades that a 1,000 or 2,000 attorney international firm can be, but if they are the best at what they do, and have adequate resources, there really isn’t a reason that they can’t win the bet-the-company type of litigation. Also, we’ve recently had some smaller firms oversell. Difficult balance, but being shortsighted to win business that you can’t successfully manage has caused some issues for firms that could definitely have made it up down the road. Just my initial thoughts and some recent experience as I try to manage within my budget, which is seeming to require changes from the previously accepted norms.”
Lots of lessons in there as you market to corporate legal departments.
My firm’s National Marketing Effectiveness Survey confirms membership in a law firm network is a best practice, and we include seeking and maintaining membership in every law firm marketing plan we write.