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Tips for picking a law firm (from tips for picking an investment bank)

In the Fin. Times, June 28, 2006 at 5, the chairman of Marks and Spencer, Paul Myners, ruminates on the role, selection, and rationale for investment banks. His thoughts parallel much of the prevailing wisdom about law firms. Translate one of his tips: “Choose the people not the bank” echoes “Hire the partner not the law firm” (See my post of Dec. 3, 2005 about first hiring the partner, but then clinging to the firm.).

Or a second tip: “Big is not necessarily beautiful. If it is advice that you want, then the important thing is the intellectual firepower of a few people. Scale, therefore, is irrelevant.” We are reminded of “Retain the smart partner, not the firm.”

Third tip: “The term ‘independent,’ when applied to a boutique, is largely meaningless. All law firms, especially smaller ones, depend on deals and clients. This brings to mind the realities of law firm objectivity and remomve (See my post of Feb. 19, 2006 which questions the relative objectivity of firms and corporate counsel.).

Final tip: “Do not be penny pinching: it is unlikely to deliver the best results.” This comment on investment banks sounds just like “Spend amply on the talent you need for strategic legal work” (See my post of Oct. 2, 2006 on the open tap for high-level services.).