I offered my two cents worth long ago (See my post of June 12, 2005) and later (See my post of June 13, 2006.). Both the firm and the lawyer attract clients, but the tendency I believe leans more often toward hiring the lawyer. Mike Roster, the former General Counsel of Golden West Financial Corporation and Stamford University, offers a different perspective.
“I agree that it is both, but in recent years, too many GC’s have understated the importance of “hiring the firm.” First, with convergence, by definition we are deciding which firms overall are doing a better job, not just individual lawyers. Second, I do not want firms where the compensation system gets in the way of my company’s matters. For example, I shun firms where an “originating partner” (that is, someone who may have handled my company’s first matter 20 years ago) always gets a portion of the fees, since that undermines the interest of the people handling our current matters and, worse, is a disincentive to the more junior attorneys. Third, I choose firms that have a large number of lawyers who have expertise in the substantive areas relevant to my matters. That’s where I really achieve savings while also getting the highest expertise and thus the best outcomes.”