4 GCs Describe How They Pick Law Firms

law firm marketing, general counsel, business developmentFour in-house counsel gave their views on “The Changing Paradigm: What Will Drive Outside Counsel Selection, Retention And Profitability in the Future?” at the 2009 Managing Partner Forum in Dana Point, CA, today. They were:

  • Michael Gruskin, Managing Attorney, Commercial and Product Litigation, General Motors
  • John E. Page, VP, GC and Secretary of Golden State Foods
  • Michael Roster, former Managing Partner of Morrison & Foerster, and former GC of Stanford University and Golden West Financial
  • Susan J. Hackett, Senior Vice President and GC, Association of Corporate Counsel

Here are the highlights, which I tweeted on Twitter today:

Page: The firms that do Golden State Foods work understand the GSF's philosophy, and they know what makes us lose money and make money.

Gruskin: 40% of GM's legal budget is spent on an alternative fee basis.

Hackett: the ACC started it’s "Value Challenge – Reconnecting Costs to the Value of Legal Services " to cut law firm costs in September 2008 because of $1,000/hr partner fees, high associate salaries, high profits per partner and arguments over bills.

Gruskin: Firms are deaf as to how their performance is being perceived by the client. 

Roster: Lawyers should spend a week at a client’s premises to learn what they do. You’ll learn a huge amount about them and how to get a great deal of that company’s business.

Page: It is essential that lawyers discuss staffing and billing at the outset of a matter.

Roster: Most law firm brochures and newsletters go straight into the wastebasket.

Roster: I watched which lawyers attended our trade association meetings. Those are the ones I hired.

Gruskin: When a law firm comes in and it’s clear they don’t know what our business is, it takes us 30 seconds to move on

Roster: Firms with an eat-what-you-kill compensation system or origination credits will not deliver the best value to us.

Gruskin; GM has only two law firms nationwide to handle all of our premises liability cases, and they do so on a flat fee basis .

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