One question in a recent survey about satisfaction with law firms, from Inside Counsel, July 2008 at 47, asked in-house counsel to rank on importance at least 10 criteria they apply when hiring outside counsel. In order, the eight highest-ranking criteria were responsiveness, industry experience, creative solutions, billing rates, reputation, preventive counseling, multiple practice areas, and alternative fee arrangements.
Three of those eight criteria come into play when a law department decides whether to keep using a law firm, but they have little to offer during the initial decision to hire the firm. No one a law department can evaluate law firm responsiveness much even by a competitive process, nor creative solutions, and especially not the firms adeptness at preventive counseling. Once a law firm has represented a company for a while, the members of the legal department can have views on those three attributes – responsiveness, creativity, and preventive counseling – but among a group of unfamiliar law firms, no input is available.
The in-house counsel responding to the survey also feel that “national reach and international reach are the least important factors when general counsel are selecting a firm” (See my posts of July 13, 2008 and July 27, 2008: a claim that global forces drive law department agendas.).