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Four Tips for Working With Regional Law Firms

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Lane Powell Shareholder Mike Reilly was quoted in the March issue of Inside Counsel magazine in an article titled “4 Tips for Working With Regional Law Firms.” The article suggested a four-step process that could help in-house counsel create and maintain strong relationships with regional law firms, including finding the right firms, giving them appropriate work, creating partnerships and evaluating the relationship. Reilly discussed the importance of in-house counsel reviewing where the majority of their matters take place and finding a law firm that can manage the cases with a regional perspective. Reilly also stated that in-house counsel should state their expectations upfront.

Law departments also should map out where the majority of their matters take place. Mike Reilly, director of the Labor and Employment and Employee Benefits Practice Group at Lane Powell, a Pacific Northwest regional law firm, says one of his firm’s Fortune 250 clients first approached the firm because it was experiencing a high volume of cases in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. “They needed someone who has a regional perspective on how to manage the cases, how to develop relationships, and how to develop legal positions that the courts will accept in the variety of jurisdictions.”

“The most important thing for a client is to have operating rules, and you very clearly say, ‘This is our philosophy, these are our expectations on communication.’ State what you want upfront,” Reilly says. He adds that good regional firms will ask in-house teams who the appropriate people are to contact, what the deadlines are and how the work should be completed. … Overall, Reilly says in-house lawyers he has worked with tend to fall into two camps. “Some companies will say, ‘I want everything done in-house, and I don’t want you to incur anything until you ask.’ That’s perfect; just tell us what you want. Then you’ve got others who say, ‘Look, I’m so buried, I’m going to trust that you’ll handle it, but I need you to make sure you’re keeping me apprised of significant developments and ask for my approval of specific steps.’”