February 13, 2013 Articles

A Guide to Partnering with Outside Litigation Counsel

Fundamental guidelines for in-house counsel when litigation strikes.

By Harry Payton – February 13, 2013

A lawsuit can be a daunting prospect for in-house counsel who has not previously retained outside counsel. When litigation requires a client to engage unfamiliar outside counsel, in-house counsel navigating the process must understand how to engage outside counsel and manage the myriad expectations of the client and outside counsel.

Selecting Litigation Counsel

The first thing an in-house lawyer must do before commencing or defending litigation is to select litigation counsel. To find an appropriate litigator to handle a new lawsuit, an in-house lawyer should consider:

  • contacting referral sources, such as friends, outside corporate counsel, classmates, or other in-house counsel that can recommend capable litigation counsel;
  • consulting lists of attorneys available in print or online media, such as Martindale-Hubbell, FindLaw, or Who's Who;
  • whether to hire a small, medium, or large firm;
  • what qualities and attributes appropriate litigation counsel would possess;
  • whether to interview prospective outside counsel or hold a beauty contest.

The lawyer or firm ultimately selected must be a good fit for both the client and the in-house lawyer managing the litigation.

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