A law firm’s reputation makes a difference, but it must awe and sway senior executives

Scoff I did when a recent survey brayed that for many law departments who are selecting firms the prestige of law firms was their guiding light (See my post of May 4, 2007.). Not simply as a proponent of hire-the-partner-not-the-firm, I doubt this finding. Prestige matters only where people think that cover your ass (CYA) is likely; “You can’t blame me for the snafu on that major matter,” says the general counsel. “I picked the crème-de-la-crème High, Lee & Regarded” (See my post of Dec. 28, 2005 on second opinions and lack of confidence in in-house staff.).

When the wheels come off, the protective cover that “I hired the best” only works if the CEO and other senior executives perceive High, Lee to practice law on a pedestal. Prestige protects, in other words, only if the fame and good name of the law firm has seeped into the highest executive levels of the company.

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