Surveyed in October 2006, 165 chief legal officers (60% from departments with 1-5 lawyers) participated in an Altman Weil/LexisNexis Martindale-Hubble survey. The CLOs preferred method of locating a firm to hire is through references from someone they know. If personal references were not available, the respondents provided some data on how long it took them to find a new outside counsel. Some could do so in “minutes” (5%), more respondents chose “weeks” (22%), but most chose “hours” (73%).
I wish there had been an option to choose “days” and I wish the question had distinguished between elapsed time and working time. The whole endeavor may take weeks, but only a few hours of actual effort during that elapsed time. Even so, the implication from this study is that even when an in-house lawyer does not know anyone to call and ask for a lead, it is not a time consuming process to find a new firm.