A recent white paper quotes an article by Larry Bodine, who “advises law firms to meet with general counsel at least once a quarter, at the client’s office” to talk about the client’s business. His quote appears in Future Law Office: Delivering Value-Added Legal Services in Challenging Times (Robert Half Legal 2009) at 5.
A general counsel could be deluged with invitations for such chats, since any legal department with five or more lawyers probably retains thirty or more law firms. Aside from the volume of requests for meetings, the general counsel may be the wrong target; it is usually a lawyer who reports to the general counsel who has the closest connection with the law firm. General counsel have more important fires to put out.
To be brutal, the sense many general counsel would have is that the visits masquerade for selling more work or additional services (See my post of April 2, 2009: pros and cons of cross selling.). To be even more brutal, they might fret that the partners will charge them some or all of their costs (and hourly fees).
We all applaud law firms that learn about their clients and apply that learning to the kind and quality of legal advice they give. We might not applaud a goal to make monthly marketing treks to headquarters.