At first blush, it makes sense that in major litigation a law department might unleash one firm to fight tooth and nail and coax another firm to sing soothingly, calm the savage beast, and seek common ground for settlement. I have myself suggested the advantages of such a good-cop bad-cop approach, but not for several years on these pages (See my post of Oct. 20, 2005: a firm to pursue settlement; July 21, 2006: team with resolution counsel; and Aug. 2, 2006 #3: parallel settlement counsel.).
The Jekyll and Hyde style makes rare appearances, I’ll wager, and for good reason. Here are some of the drawbacks.
Cost, since the settlers have to be in tune with the attackers, and the reverse, which runs up fees;
Politics, since there will often be jockeying for strategic influence over the client by the two firms, or finger pointing;
Psychology, since business resolution efforts encroach on the key role of inside counsel (See my post of Feb. 23, 2009: complementary roles of inside and outside litigation counsel.);
Initiation, since it may prove hard to find partners that genuinely and skillfully seek resolution of disputes;
Posture, since the dual roles send mixed messages to the other side; and
Coordination, since the disputes run on two tracks.