If your law department sends a substantial amount of work to a firm, and expects to do so for several years, that firm should appoint a relationship partner. The relationship partner makes it her business to know about how the firm is serving you, what problems have arisen, how to pull together the experiences and learning of the firm’s lawyers who serve you. The role should be one of ombudsperson and facilitator, in addition to providing legal services.
Also, your law department should approve the designated relationship partner. It would be even better to hammer out guidelines and mutual expectations regarding the role of the relationship partner. See my posts of Oct. 8, 2005 on successor relationship partners and Sept. 22, 2005 about Wal-Mart and diversity of relationship partners.