There are times when in-house counsel understands its limitations and knows that its team does not have the knowledge or skills to tackle a certain task such as litigation. This is the time that a company needs to turn to an outside law firm.
Once corporate counsel comes to this realization, its team needs to search for, find and retain the right outside counsel that can fulfill its expectations and help fend off a potentially costly lawsuit. If your in-house team does its due diligence, it will determine the law firm that is the right fit.
Make list, interview and assess
How do you begin your search and eventual selection of outside counsel? Here are some steps to consider:
- Gather the in-house team and create a list of candidates: Determine the firms that have the knowledge and qualities that the company needs. Attorneys can be a well-connected group, so coming up with candidates should not be difficult.
- Interview each prospective law firm: Discuss the nature of the legal case, your company’s expectations and how the outside law firm may approach the case. You want to work with outside counsel that has a firm understanding of your business and its needs. Find out about the law firm’s important relationships with other companies, its courtroom success rates as well as its most effective attorneys.
- Assess the team and its strengths: Make sure the outside law firm consists of a highly skilled team with a broad background in law and can adapt when unexpected and seemingly unrelated issues surface.
- Make sure that personalities gel: Corporate counsel will work closely with this outside law firm, and you want this business relationship to succeed. A strong rapport is essential, and there is no room for conflict. Your teams are focused on the same goal with each bringing different and overlapping strengths. Mild clashes in personality are possible. Just remember that you do not have to like them, just be agreeable to working with them.
- Discuss fees: Lay this out in the open as you do not want any surprises. You want a partner that offers value for the costs that you will incur.
Great thought and consideration must go into every step when searching for and selecting an outside law firm to be your partner.
Knowledge and creativity are keys to success
Since litigation may not be a strength of your in-house corporate counsel, you need the insight of outside counsel who should consist of a team with varied legal backgrounds and broad knowledge in a number of legal areas. Knowing how to tackle a problem strategically can help you and your company avoid more significant issues down the road.