NEW YORK, Sept. 17, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- ALM's Corporate Counsel, the nation's leading source of news and information for general counsel and in-house attorneys, has published its annual survey of outside counsel to the Fortune 500 companies, "Who Represents America's Biggest Companies," in the October issue and online at corpcounsel.com. To supplement the formal census of law firm and client pairings, Corporate Counsel went behind the scenes to interview participants on the quality of these relationships and what can go wrong.
Data for the survey was compiled by ALM Legal Intelligence, which scanned court documents and filings obtained from multiple sources to determine which firms represented which companies in matters in six practice areas. The research was conducted in July and August, looking for representations during the prior calendar year.
"We're doing something a little different this year," said Anthony Paonita, editor-in-chief of Corporate Counsel. "We asked corporate counsel and some law firm partners what bothers them about their opposite numbers. They dished—but they also offered solutions to the main problem, a breakdown in communication."
Among the pet peeves revealed in on- and off-the-record interviews were the following:
- Getting phone calls returned. Though mainly a complaint of inside lawyers, outside counsel too were sometimes frustrated by their counterpart's unresponsiveness.
- Slick sales presentations. Corporate counsel resent high-pressure marketing at initial meetings, preferring to talk to outside firms, whose qualifications they have already vetted, about specific needs.
- Other first-meeting woes. Counsel tell of being stood up by law firm partners or getting billed for get-to-know-you lunches.
- Ignoring hiring procedures. Law firms may try to run around law department processes, sometimes by appealing directly to C-suite executives.
- Scope-of-work issues. As one insider put it, "You order a tree house, they give you the Hoover Dam." Others emphasize that poor communications with outside counsel, while widespread, is a solvable problem.
- Billing surprises. Corporate counsel may feel blindsided by late or unexpectedly large invoices. Absent some personal connection between the parties, such missed signals can poison institutional relationships.
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