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Hire the firm or hire the partner – a function of familiarity (Haier)

Interviewed by Managing Intellectual Property, Feb. 2006, the legal affairs director of the Chinese company Haier offers another wrinkle on the old chestnut

At the initial stage of cooperation, because we do not know the counsel well, we would choose a law firm rather than the counsel, because the firm will ensure the quality of their work. If we find that the services of the lawyer or agent meets our requirements, and he or she subsequently changes firm, then we will consider instructing the new firm.

Makes sense to me. First the firm’s overall reputation seals the deal, but later, as the law department comes to respect and trust a particular partner at the firm, that partner becomes the linchpin – and the department’s loyalty attaches to the partner, not the firm (See my post of Oct. 4, 2005 about loyalty.).