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Most new instructions based on direct referrals

General counsel rely on recommendations from within their legal departments  

17 September 2013

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

General counsel overwhelmingly favour law firms that have been directly referred to them, according to recent research.

The survey of 270 general counsel found that, for 86 per cent, direct referrals are the most trusted source for researching law firms. The next highest-ranking source is law firm networks (17 per cent), followed by directories (11 per cent). Online searches score lowest in the list of trusted research sources, at four per cent.

For 96 per cent of respondents, referrals from within their legal departments were most depended upon; personal experience followed close behind. Referrals from in-house counsel at other organisations were ranked highly by 88 per cent, followed by referrals from colleagues within their own companies, at 70 per cent.

Legal directories, while referred to by nearly 60 per cent of respondents, were relied upon by only one in ten. Nearly a quarter also said they use the legal press to research law firms, but only four per cent said they depend upon it for new instructions.

More than half of general counsel look favourably on law firms directly approaching them, while just over a quarter said they use tenders to find law firms. Nearly half of those using tenders said they feel it is more efficient than the traditional panel selection process.

When researching law firms in emerging markets, two thirds of respondents said they always use recommendations from within their legal departments. External advisers are their second most-popular source, winning votes from just over half of respondents. Contacts from within their organisations ranked third, followed by legal directories.

The survey received 270 responses from general counsel, more than half of whom are at companies with more than £2bn in turnover. The full findings are published in The General Counsel Excellence Report 2013.


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