Posted by: johnocunningham | May 16, 2019

Small Firms Can Win Big Clients Too

I recently noticed a helpful short article in the May edition of the Texas Bar Journal by Martha M. Newman, entitled, “You Can Win Big Company Clients!”

The entire article is worth reading (thru the link above) but I will share just a few facts cited by the author that might be of particular interest:

  1. A recent survey of in-house lawyers found that 45 percent had cut ties with one or more outside counsel in the past two years, and the most often-cited reasons were – 1. too expensive; 2. unresponsive; 3. worked inefficiently; and 4. did not understand our business (this latter complaint is the top-ranked reason for ditching counsel in a few surveys I have seen).
  2. In-house lawyers are seeing that small firms have good lawyers too – 92.3 percent of winners in court come from small firms according to an analytics firm (of course, most firms are small firms and complex commercial cases handled by larger firms often settle before trial).
  3. According to one survey, only 17 percent of in-house law departments have formal processes for placing firms on approved outside counsel lists, and 63 percent have only informal lists with most GCs preferring network referrals.

These observations are consistent with my own interviews of in-house lawyers, who reject the notion that only big firms can get their work, and who generally look for the right lawyer for the right job, sometimes being someone from a large firm and sometimes not. In-house pros are especially sensitive to getting good local counsel for matters located in smaller population areas where big firms rarely provide local assistance.

So small firm lawyers should not exclude big companies from their target lists based on faulty assumptions about how the counsel selection process works.


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