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It turns out that managing the relationship between in-house counsel and law firm attorneys is a lot like dating: Responsiveness and understanding are key to long-term success, and there are always a few trouble areas where things could be better. For the respondents to InsideCounsel's 19th Annual Survey of General Counsel, that source of tension stems mainly from budget issues in the face of mounting law firm rates.
But with the majority of in-house respondents reporting they are generally happy with their law firm relationships, clearly there are ways to cope.
"There's always pressure on [law firm] partners for business development, and part of my job is to get what I need from them while allowing them to meet some--but certainly not all--of their economic interests," says Martha McCabe, general counsel of the Alamo Community College District. "It's a dance."
With the results on the following pages, InsideCounsel aims to inform the choreography of that dance with a peek into the minds of both in-house counsel and law firms, as well as a look into one company's approach to law firm management.