Partners with whom I have worked have many common characteristics, which include, among other things, high levels of intelligence, keen analytical skills and a propensity to be dogmatic in thoroughly reviewing facts and data. It thus is anomalous that when a discussion turns to their impressions of other firms in their markets, their often strong opinions are frequently based on incomplete information. In some cases, their views are predicated on extrapolating from a single experience with just one lawyer, assuming that this is emblematic of the persona of the firm at large. In others, their opinions are based on nothing more than anecdotal stories they have heard or, worse yet, are just visceral reactions that somehow filtered into their consciousness over the years, with no nexus to any real-life experience.

In some cases, these impressions may be accurate, as there may be consonance between a reputation and reality. I have found, though, that in many cases, these off-the-cuff reactions are off base. Interestingly, in most situations, the uninformed lawyer has a negative opinion of other firms; those who perceive competitors positively frequently have had good experiences with those firms during their careers.