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Do GCs Use Legal Directories?

John Wallbillich at Wired GC and Kevin O'Keefe at Real Lawyers Have Blogs are among the bloggers commenting on the article in the U.K. periodical Legal Week, "Corporate Counsel: Information Overload?" In it, writer Michelle Madsen considers whether corporate counsel view legal directories as valuable sources of information or wastes of lawyers' time and money. The question is fair game, she notes, having been raised by the directories themselves, with publisher Chambers and Partners producing a report last year, "Do Clients Use Chambers?" laden with testimonials from U.S. general counsel. But Madsen finds less enthusiasm for directories among GC in the U.K. Shell London legal head Richard Wiseman tells her:

I use them very, very rarely. I have the luxury of being able to consult with colleagues on the question of which outside counsel to speak to. I am horrified by the amount of money that firms spend on preparing submissions to these directories. I cannot imagine who they think is naive enough to use a directory in any other way than they would use the Yellow Pages.

Their one value, other GC tell Madsen, is as a reference point for entering a new market or "if you are completely stuck."

Madsen's findings are at odds with a recent Martindale-Hubbell survey reported Feb. 25 on the company's blog by John Lipsey, vice president for corporate counsel services. When he asked corporate counsel to rank, in order of importance, the resources they leverage when hiring outside counsel, more than 90 percent ranked personal referrals as first. Next on the list was Martindale-Hubbell, ranked as important by 42 percent of corporate counsel. That speaks well of Martindale, Lipsey suggests, given that only 18 percent cited Google as a resource and even fewer listed Best Lawyers, Chambers, SuperLawyers, Law Dragon or Avvo.

Blogger O'Keefe suggests that the Martindale survey lacks credibility as self-serving "and done to argue that Martindale remains relevant in the age of the internet." From his perspective, the Wired GC's Wallbillich sees these various directories as having some purpose, "but their influence is more like a citation from a Louisiana state court in a legal brief. It’s better than nothing, but in my experience only in limited cases (such as a foreign jurisdiction or a minor matter for local counsel)." From my own conversations with corporate counsel, my sense is that they rely heavily on word-of-mouth referrals and references, but that legal directories provide corroboration and affirmation, as do other sources -- including blogs.

What do you think? Do legal directories serve a useful role in hiring?

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on March 10, 2008 at 12:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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