Correlation between law firm size and listing in NLJ corporate representation

Being listed as one of their 20 most frequently used law firms in America, according to the latest corporate counsel survey, probably boils down to size; the larger the firm, the more likely it is to be cited. This hypothesis makes sense because more law departments have an opportunity to use a firm that has a larger number of lawyers. And, the more clients choose a particular firm, the more the firm can add lawyers. Cause and effect work both ways.

The second reason for dominance of brand-name firms is the “Buy-IBM” effect. In the 60s and 70s, no IT staffer could be assaulted for having bought from the industry leader, IBM. Nowadays, a score of household-name law firms (when you reach Cher status, with a single name, you have made it – Cravath, Skadden, MOFO, S&C) serve as the unimpeachable IBMs for general counsel who fear being second-guessed.

Third, it would not surprise me to find that the most frequently cited firms are also geographically closest to the largest number of major corporations. A Denver-based firm will have a much harder time cracking the list than a New York firm.

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