Managing relationships with outside counsel is perhaps the topic of most concern to in-house counsel and this week there are a flurry of stories that provide some valuable perspective. To start with, there's an interesting interview with Greg Jordan, the CLO of PNC Financial Group, who says the key is to approach outside counsel as partners, not vendors. In implementing this vision over the last decade, Jordan has eschewed the use of RFPs as a means of selecting panel firms and instead has focused efforts on cultivating long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. A key part of PNC's approach has been to assign a member of the in-house team to act as liaison and lead in nurturing the relationship along. You can read the full text of the interview with Jordan here.
Reaching for a Summit
Another interesting take on the same topic comes from Tim Murphy, the GC of Mastercard. Instead of appointing a single liaison for each outside firm, Mastercard has found success in improving firm relationships by hosting occasional summits where in-house and outside counsel come together, mingle and develop better understanding of the client's key business concerns. It may sound counter-intuitive to bring together lawyers from multiple outside firms but a recent study by AdvanceLaw suggests that summits have enhanced performance by participating firms. You can read Murphy's full article here.
Don't Be Fooled By a Park Avenue Address
The conventional wisdom in the tech business used to be that you'll never get fired for choosing IBM to handle a project. And similarly in the legal realm, when it comes to picking outside counsel for a major transaction or litigation, going with a blue chip New York law firm was viewed as the safe albeit usually more expensive choice. But new data from a study undertaken by AdvanceLaw calls into question such conventional wisdom in the legal market. Plotting the likelihood to recommend score for law firms against their home base of operations, shows that law firms based in second tier cities (such as St. Louis, Denver and Atlanta) scored just as well or better than firms based on New York and Los Angeles. You can read more about the study here and find how it influenced the outside counsel choices for the GC of Molson Coors.
To Be a Better GC, Think like a CFO
As if being a lawyer isn't tough enough these days, according to this article by Neil Peretz, current GC of Contact Wrangler and a corporate CEO, CFO, and COO, the key to being an effective GC in our current business climate hinges on thinking more like a CFO. When it comes to deciding on the right technology for your law department or fine-tuning your company's risk profile, you need to set aside the law books and start worrying about such acronyms as ROI and TCO and ABC, just like all the MBAs do. You can start improving your financial acumen with Peretz's article in the ACC Docket here.