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Key factors guide choice of outside business litigation counsel

Most businesses in North Carolina do not have in-house litigation counsel. If there is an in-house legal department, it is usually comprised of corporate lawyers who handle a variety of transactional matters for the company. When a company faces a substantially challenging business litigation matter, it will generally turn to an outside law firm that is fully equipped to handle the demands of any particular litigation challenge.  

An in-house committee or leader may find it helpful to consider some of the following tips in selecting an outside law firm. You may wish to start out by consulting a lawyers' publication that publishes peer-review ratings from other attorneys. If the firm has the highest rating possible in the practice area of concern, that will be a big start in establishing the professional reputation for success and professional excellence of a candidate law firm.  

After that, you may ask the candidates for references from prior clients. Ask honest questions and determine how the prior client rates the firm's professionalism, expertise, billing procedures and the value given by the firm in return for its billed fees. Ask how the firm works as a team and whether the members of the team were able to work seamlessly with each other and with the client.  

Compile a portfolio on each candidate. Then compare the traits and narrow down the search. You will want to give high points for law firms that are easily accessible to your courthouse and that have a familiarity with the type of case being litigated. Make sure the firm is an aggressive litigator, but also unquestionably ethical.

The most important factor is, perhaps, to see how the lawyer or law firm adjusts to a variety of important legal disputes. You can get a list of business litigation cases handled in North Carolina. In a close call, try to go with the lawyer who best exemplifies a strong combination of experience, knowledge, confidence and toughness. Finally, temper those qualities with a firm that is geared toward finding practical resolutions to difficult problems.

Source:, "5 Tips for Retaining Outside Litigation Counsel", Jim Boeckman and Jeff Travis, Dec. 8, 2014

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Key factors guide choice of outside business litigation counsel | Britton Law, P.A.