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Does Corporate Legal Hire Lawyers or Law Firms?

Top Factors for Evaluation Outside Counsel

What is the most important factor to corporate legal in evaluating outside counsel? 

Relationships according to a survey of corporate legal departments published at the end of 2014. The vast majority of respondents were corporate attorneys with senior leadership titles.

If relationships still matter in the business of law, what then does that really mean from a corporate counsel perspective?

Casey Sullivan, of the newly launched Bloomberg publication, Big Law Business site provides an excellent example in a recent story: Newegg CLO: Lawyers Matter, Law Firms Don’t.

It provides the reaction from a chief legal officer who learned “secondhand” that one of his key outside litigation attorneys made a lateral move to another firm and “wasn’t fazed.”

“My philosophy and the philosophy of a growing number of in-house counsel, is that we hire lawyers, not law firms,” remarked Lee Cheng, CLO with Newegg, Inc. “As long as they demonstrate the same level of care, we are platform agnostic.”

How do lawyers in get to that point?  Mr. Cheng noted:

Yar [Chaikovsky] reached out to me initially many years ago. I get a lot of calls from a lot of lawyers pitching for work. There is definitely a difference between calls, and calls. We had a conversation that I found engaging and he demonstrated in that conversation that he understood the in-house mentality. That stood out. This is not clear with a lot of lawyers who have only worked at a big law firm. So I had a very good initial conversation.

Despite already having “very good patent counsel” he sent a small matter was satisfied with the results so he sent a little more work over.  The relationship grew from there.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
The Key to CRM is Tracking Relationships 

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About Frank Strong

Frank Strong
Frank Strong is the communications director for the LexisNexis software division located on NC State’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh. In this capacity, he leads communications efforts in support of software products for law practice and law department management and also litigation tools – across large law, small law and corporate counsel segments. With more than 15 years of experience in the high-tech sector, Strong previously served as director of public relations for Vocus, which developed marketing, PR and media monitoring software. He has held multiple roles both in-house with corporations, ranging from startups to global organizations, and has also endured the rigors of billable hours, having completed gigs at PR firms including the top 10 global firm Hill & Knowlton. A veteran of two year-long deployments, Strong has concurrently served in uniform in reserve components of the military for more than 20 years, initially as an enlisted Marine and later as an infantry officer in the Army National Guard. Strong holds a BA in Film and TV production from Worcester State University, an M.A. in Public Communication from American University, and an M.B.A. from Marymount University. He is a PADI-certified Master Scuba Diver and holds a USPA "B" skydiving license.


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