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Considerations of Canadian in-house lawyers when choosing outside counsel

From the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association survey of its members for the 2007 In-House Corporate Counsel Barometer, at 25, comes data on considerations law department lawyers have regarding the choice of outside counsel. The usual desiderata lead the list, such as responsiveness, specialization, depth of experience, and existing relationships. Three unusual considerations deserve comment.

“The consistency of a law firm’s performance between offices, departments and lawyers” ranks number five among the nine survey choices. It taps into an important point: does a law firm deliver a consistent level of good quality across locations and levels?

Further down, at number seven on the ranking, is “access to a law firm’s premier lawyers.” My first thought is that such access ought to be infrequent, and that there is a high cost to the time of the top lawyer. My second was that a law department needs to match the sophistication of its legal needs to the capabilities of preeminent lawyers.

Finally, the consideration entitled “the media coverage that a law firm receives” comes in last, as a meager 1 percent said it was a “very important” consideration. Articles, roundtables, and quotes in the press evidently do not sway Canadian in-house counsel when they come to pick firms. The report does note that the wording of this option may not adequately address a firm’s overall public profile and reputation (See my post of May 23, 2007 on “prestige” of firms as a meretricious factor.).