Published on:

Sycophancy and flattery by outside counsel

In some consulting projects I have spoken with partners at the primary firms of my client law department. The hope has been that they will identify aspects of the law department that can improve. Usually, however, what the partners say disappoints me, because they never take the gloves off.

As I scanned the encomium for GE’s law department by a group of eight partners who represent GE, published in Met. Corp. Counsel, Vol. 16, Aug. 2008 at 36, I gagged. A partner at Munger Tolles confides that GE’s in-house lawyers “are the most consistently excellent in-house lawyers I have encountered in my career.” An M&A partner at Allen & Overy burbles that “working with GE lawyers is like having additional partners on your side.” Weil Gotshal’s partner praised them fulsomely: “You are working with people who know what they’re doing; are very professional and very smart.” Not to be outdone, a King & Spaulding partner who has represented GE for thirty years laid it on thickly: “Every GE lawyer I’ve met is a class act. They are excellent managers of outside counsel.” From the standpoint of Paul Hastings, “they are not only tough, smart and dedicated, but they also challenge us in ways that make us all better lawyers.”

How do lawyers at the other firms these partners represent feel? Do they speak as highly of their own partners and associates (See my post of March 30, 2006: do partners fake praise of in-house counsel; and Oct. 30, 2006: patronizing attitude of law firm partners.)?