Sometimes law departments turn to a law firm not so much for legal advice as for consulting advice. I know of companies where law firms have reviewed and recommended on a law department’s litigation process, on how another one should handle documents in discovery, on processes for dating stock options, and on portal technology.
I am biased, to be sure, but I suspect the consulting projects run by law firms are expensive, target findings and next steps that have substantive legal implications (business development, that is), and misses many of the tools of experienced consultants.
Even so, law firm partners qua consultant is one more resource available to law department managers (See my post of April 5, 2005 on the Association of Consultants to Law Departments.).