Interview: How one in-house counsel finds a new law firm
September 1, 2009
Talked today with a general counsel and her outside coordinating counsel for a national docket of litigation about how they hire and drop local firms– they assign 5,ooo cases every year of which about 100 go to trial.
When searching for a new firm they create an initial list by asking other lawyers, both in-house and in private practice around the country, for references. They want the name of a lawyer, the person who will be their lead counsel, not a firm name. Once they have those names they cut the list down to four to six lawyers by selecting only lawyers at firms firms where a number of litigation partners are members of groups in which membership is vetted, such as IADC rather than not, such as DRI. (They use firm Web sites to discover this information, they said.)
An evaluation of rates, industry experience, availability, conflicts and interviews come next. Their point to me was absent the personal references and individually-vetted memberships, firms don’t get consideration. (This is consistent with our national marketing effectiveness surveys which show trade group membership is one of the most effective marketing tactics a lawyer can employ.)
Asked why they most commonly drop a firm, they said failure to follow billing guidelines and overly aggressive billing of associates and paralegals.