Traditionally, corporate law departments have selected law firms to handle work that the in-house lawyers could not handle for whatever reason. Even when the in-house lawyers “selected the lawyer” rather than the firm, they typically retained the firm with the individual lawyer being the primary billing professional, but getting the other resources of the firm as well.
To maximize value, though, in-house lawyers need to think of each matter (e.g., dispute, litigation or transaction) as a project to be managed. Further, they need to determine what mix of skills, professional expertise and experience is necessary for a successful completion of the matter. Having made that determination, they should consider where to find those distinct skills, without limiting their search to a firm-by-firm process. Rather, they should engage in a more thorough, granular selection process that can lead to a team comprised of individuals from disparate organizations, not even all of which must be law firms. A partner from one law firm might be teamed with a senior associate from another and a vendor of necessary services (e.g., an e-discovery vendor or a document management firm).
In this way, the company is far more likely to receive the precise talents necessary for successful handling of the matter. A second result should be a much more cost-effective assemblage of talent, as the more-precise correlation of talent and need will maximize the benefit realized from the selection process.