Pacific Business publishes Asian-Counsel, which published the results of a survey in the summer of 2008 of its survey of law departments in Asia and the Middle East. One question asked in the survey was “What three factors most influence your choice of outside counsel?”
A bar chart depicts the overall percentages of responses for five attributes that got the highest percentages, but gives no precise numbers so I eye-balled them. Note that two other attributes were “relationship between the company and the firm” and “personal relationship between in-house counsel and external counsel.”
“Expertise in a specific area” (75%)
“Reputation of law firm (50%)
“Reputation of individual lawyer (40%)
A handful of observations occur to me from this reported data.
“Experience” is, to me, a lesser credential than “expertise.” Expertise implies a very high degree of mastery of the law and its practical application.
Fees counted here for more than other surveys have found (See my post of Oct. 22, 2008: law firm attributes important for selection with 12 references.).
The survey did not ask about the reputation of a practice group (See my post of Nov. 11, 2007: views of law-firm practice groups.).
Knowledge of the particular client or of the industry in which it operates was not asked about.
Fifth, none of the four lower-ranked attributes matter at all if the particular lawyer who gives you advice does not know what he or she is talking about. In other words, the sine qua non is legal savvy.