General Counsel don’t hire a law firm because of the firm’s “prestige”

Survey results from BTI, published in Law Practice, April 2007, place “prestige” as the most important determinant of why law departments retain law firms.

Preposterous, I say. It cannot be denied that if all factors were equal, the better known firm, with the better reputation in the market, would probably get the call. But nothing is the same among top-tier law firms, and it is the quality of the partner or the partner’s relationship with senior lawyers and executives at the client that most influences the decision to retain.

After the decision is taken, as a convenient rationalization, a law department may say that it was the shining luster of the firm overall that seduced them. Self-evident, isn’t it, that there are a score or more of law firms in the country with larger-than-life renown, and there has to be other attributes that count for more in choosing among them. Its not prestige, its mostly the lead partner’s prowess.

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