Solo and Small Firm

The Practitioner Spring 2017, Volume 23, Issue 2

Ten Things an In-House Counsel Looks for in Selecting and Working with Outside Counsel

By Marty Hochman

Marty Hochman is Assistant General Counsel at Callaway Golf Company in Carlsbad. He spends more time lawyering than golfing. His email is

Choosing the right law firm can be one of the most important and challenging decisions that an in-house counsel has to make. Corporate executives rely on their attorneys not only to deliver day-to-day legal advice, but also to identify and manage the right outside lawyers to best serve the company’s needs. In many cases, the work product of an outside counsel is a reflection of the corporate attorney’s judgment, performance, and management ability. The wrong choice can have significant consequences on an in-house counsel’s career path and on the company’s bottom line.

From a budgetary perspective, outside legal costs frequently comprise the single largest expense category for the in-house law department. With the hourly billable rates of partners at large law firms now regularly exceeding $1,000 per hour, in-house counsels are increasingly looking for more economical alternatives when hiring outside attorneys. At the same time, quality and timeliness of work remain of paramount importance in the decision-making process. This means that in-house counsels must find someone who can deliver prompt and expert advice on time and within a budget and meet corporate management’s expectations.

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