Modest value ascribed to “chemistry” between firm lawyer and department lawyer

A 2008 survey of in-house counsel in Central and Eastern Europe, conducted by the Forbes Institute with Martindale-Hubble International, has some data about the relatively low importance of interpersonal chemistry. “Personal relationship with lawyers/chemistry” ranked 10th out of 12 in terms of criteria for choosing external counsel. It ranked 7th out of 11 in terms of being retained after the first matter.

In short, whether or not you like the outside lawyer you hire (“good chemistry”) has much less influence than the skill set they bring. An outside lawyer whom you dislike is another matter, but given a neutral or positive attitude about a lawyer, the relationship is essentially that of a service provider. True, unlike a plumber who fixes your sink and whom you need never meet, counsel spend late nights and pressured moments with you. Still, chemistry is often over-rated.

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