Evaluations of long-serving law firms by inside lawyers who work with them inevitably shift to high scores and little differentiation in results. If the lawyers did not like the firm, they would have used them less or not at all, barring political over-rides that mandated use. It becomes rating your favorite deserts – all are tasty: what is gained from cleaning when the pool is already carefully filtered?
A more fruitful use of time might be for in-house lawyers to evaluate the fringe firms, the ones that have not embedded themselves through good service over a period of time. The risk of that approach wears the face of complacency, beams alike on law firms and internal lawyers when relationships reach the maturity of long-standing and short attention.
This blog frets quite a lot about entrenched law firms and their sense of entitlement matched by declining effort (See my post of May 1, 2005: the dark side of partnering; Dec. 16, 2005: complacency among entrenched firms; Feb. 15, 2006: panel selections in Europe; Nov. 11, 2007: don’t praise firms so that they don’t become settled; Oct. 10, 2008: competitive bids attack entitlement; Dec. 14, 2008: low rate of firing entrenched firms; and Feb. 22, 2009: ten clues to the onset of complacency by your primary law firms; and April 16, 2009: incumbent firms with 11 references.).