Asked: Our weekly question to the In-House community
Ever wonder why general counsel fire outside firms?
A U.K-based market research firm put that question to a couple thousand in-house attorneys in 45 different countries. Out of the top five answers, three centered on the cost-to-value ratio and the other two focused on lack of client maintenance — one, particularly, on client maintenance when a key contact leaves the firm. The top reasons were published in American Lawyer:
• “They were doing a bad job: no results and a lot of invoices.”
• “Poor service. Lots of delay. When challenged, they were completely up front and just said [they] don’t have enough resources, which is pretty astonishing for an international law firm.”
• “It has to do with quality and price. We paid thirty or forty thousand euros, more or less for nothing. So, they had to go.”
•”The main client relationship [partner] left the firm. I find that often when partners leave, those firms neglect to contact clients to say we still want your business and we have signed a new relationship manager. They tend not to correspond with you. Yet the partner who leaves always contacts you from the new firm.”
•”There was a severe lack of relationship between what the bills were and what the value delivered was.”
So, here’s our question for you:
What are the main reasons you would fire outside counsel or have fired outside counsel in the past?
In a case that circles back to Maryland courts, the owners of the Atlanta Thrashers and the Atlanta Hawks (those are hockey and basketball teams, for the uninitiated) have sued the lawyers who wrote up a “fatally flawed” contract to buy out the interest of one of the team’s owners.
Speaking of pathologies, I think John Mesirow at Legal Juice summed it up well when he wrote “it’s not often that an attorney gets busted for doing cocaine, in the courthouse, in the midst of a trial.” Here’s what happened.
In more upbeat news, here’s a well-done and feel-good story about late U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist’s grandson, Peter, a walk-on to the basketball team at Boston College. (As a legal reporter who sometimes wishes he had walked on to his college basketball team, I got a double kick out of this one. HT: How Appealing)
“But if I wrote an editorial to the Miami Herald decrying the fact that Obama’s health care plan includes feeding small children to lions, would they publish that too?” Ron Miller sounds off about an anti-health care plan opinion column.
Former congressman Dick Armey has left DLA Piper over backlash about his work to defeat the Democrats’ health care proposals.
According to AmLaw Daily, Harvard Law School is telling its students to consider widening their summer associate job search. To Baltimore.
Bloomberg, which first reported on the story, quotes assistant dean for career services Mark Weber as follows:
“If you are looking in D.C., consider Baltimore or Richmond,” he said. “If you’re looking in Chicago, try Milwaukee and St. Louis, too. You need to be casting a wider net in this market. “
Really? Baltimore? I can’t speak for Richmond, Milwaukee or St. Louis, but I can say that the Baltimore legal market, while probably in better shape than Washington or New York, is hardly immune to recession-itis. To my knowledge, no firms with a major presence here have yet canceled their 2010 summer programs, but there have certainly been layoffs, and several firms have postponed their 2009 first-year associates’ start dates. Where does Harvard think these developments will leave the would-be summer associate class of 2010? Even if no Baltimore firms call off their 2010 summer programs, how many of their summer associates can reasonably expect a job offer come August 2010?
One thing’s for sure: if students from the second-best law school in the country do listen to their dean’s advice and start taking a closer look at Baltimore, our home-grown law students will face stiff competition this fall in their bid for summer associate positions. I’m not knocking the University of Baltimore or the University of Maryland. But increased competition from anywhere would make it a tougher job market, and increased competition from Harvard students, even more so.
Last Friday, word got out that the firm had shown 30 senior associates the door. (I’ve made three calls to the firm since then to find out whether anyone in the Baltimore office was affected, but I haven’t heard back. Take from that what you will.)
Then yesterday, Above the Law posted a Hogan memo announcing that the current summer associates who get job offers in the Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia offices will come on board in the fall of 2011, not 2010. No word yet on Baltimore. (See above re: me not getting called back.) Hogan is notalone on this move, by the way.
It could be worse. This firm has canceled its on-campus recruiting for the fall and its 2010 summer associate program.
Bloomberg News, citing Above The Law, reports that DLA Piper has fired 21 junior lawyers and 100 staff, citing “the worst economic period in generations.”
As we’ve reported in the last few months, the firm let 80 associates and 100 staffers go in February and reduced associate salaries in May. The firm mentioned those moves in a statement Wednesday confirming the latest firings, in which it concluded the light at the end of the tunnel was further than it had thought.
The firings were not performance-based, and those who lost their jobs will received [sic] severance benefits and outplacement counseling, the firm said in a statement today.
“It is increasingly clear that major improvements in the U.S. and global economy will not occur before 2010,” DLA Piper said in its statement. “While the firm’s financial position remains strong, a tightly-managed cost structure is essential to compete effectively during these uncertain times.”