by 04g7F1nl02 on January 22, 2008 · 0 comments

in Corporate counsel issues

It’s always great spending time with marketing partners and law firm marketing professionals as I was able to do this week at the Marketing Partners Forum.

I have to start by congratulating Mark Long from Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt with whom I had a wonderful dinner on Wednesday night for winning this year’s Marketing Partner of the Year award as reported almost instantaneously on Larry Bodine’s blog.

One theme I heard at a few of the sessions was the importance of references to corporate counsel in the process they go through to select lawyers and law firms.  Corporate counsel use references, of course, to come up with their list of lawyers from which they’ll make a final selection.  They also use references to get a sense of some of the characteristics we hear that are very hard to get at objectively…things like trust, judgment, ability to manage a budget, creativity, and so on.

The most obvious use case, of course, is that corporate counsel look first to the firms they know — those on their preferred provider list — when looking for references. What may not be so obvious is that when in-house lawyers look for private practice lawyers, they might start off with a list of references that is too long to actually follow up on.  Since the selection process involves reading a firm’s web site and talking in detail about the matter with the partner at the firm under consideration, among other things, this process can be quite time consuming.  Consequently, corporate counsel have to winnow down lists of references to a manageable number.

These preferences and challenges are actually very consistent with the feedback we get here at Martindale-Hubbell.  They are, in fact, part of our motivation for introducing two features that help with the process of using references.  Specifically, the My Martindale Network tool helps corporate counsel begin to better manage their existing preferred provider lists.  Also, our side-by-side comparison tool helps to winnow down a long list of references so the conversations that ultimately determine which lawyer is hired can happen.

If you haven’t checked out My Martindale Network or the side-by-side comparison functionality, consider registering and taking a look.  We would love to hear what you think as these are both relatively new features and our plans are to continue to listen, learn, and take action.

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