Most people would describe a strong relationship as one where over several years a law department has paid a law firm a pile of money. Revenue is certainly one gauge of the strength of an attorney-client relationship.
Another measure, however, is the importance of matters for which the law department turns to the law firm. Each retention may be a year or two apart, but if it is a very important lawsuit or transaction and the law department routinely turns to the same firm, revenue is not the only measure of the bond.
A third measure could be share of client’s wallet. If 100 percent of the work in a particular practice area goes to one firm, one would have to say that the firm has a strong relationship with the law department.
Another indicator might be the number of touch points between the law firm and the law department. One firm might get several million dollars of work a year from a law department but it is through the personal relationship of a single partner. Another firm, with less revenue, may have five or six lawyers who are favored by the law department and its clients.
All of these are different indicators of the strength of the relationship between the two sides.