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The whispered worry: business executives might hire incompetent friends to provide legal services

One threat law departments always raise when the discussion turns to whether clients should be able to retain lawyers on their own – “Manager X might hire his golf club buddy.” I wonder about this worry, since Manager X has a bottom line to protect, and if golf buddy over-charges or under-delivers, Manager X may end up finding professional fulfillment elsewhere.

Granted, Manager X may not be able to evaluate the value delivered by golf buddy as well as an in-house lawyer might, but inexperience presents a different objection than cronyism. After all, in-house counsel themselves are not immune from favoritism (See my post of Oct. 5, 2010: some ideas for how to base retentions on merit.).