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Law departments apparently see little value in formal evaluations of their external counsel

In October Altman Weil collected responses from what they describe as 176 top corporate lawyers. More than half the participants represented corporations with revenues between $1 billion and $2 billion. Twenty percent had revenue greater than $10 billion.

Only one out of three respondents said they “regularly and formally evaluated outside counsel,” and less than one out of five said they communicated evaluations to the firm. I take even these doleful figures as probably over-stated since who wants to admit to failing to do something that is widely touted as a good practice?

Law departments who forego evaluations lose the opportunity to change their firms’ behavior, according to one commentator. That is true, but all law departments struggle to collect useful ideas from their lawyers about outside counsel and struggle even more to convey those suggestions to their firms, leaving aside totally whether the ideas make any difference thereafter.