A glance at the Top 100 chart will show that corporate America uses most of the same firms it’s always used. The rankings may change a bit from year to year, but that’s just a ripple. Our reporting over the past few years has told us there are lots of reasons for the minor ups and downs. The volume of litigation changes from year to year; firms may show up when a suit generates lots of court papers—our primary way of tracking outside firm use. Indeed, some law firms don’t show up in our listings very often, because of the nature of their client work. Who is it that said a good lawyer keeps his or her client out of court (here’s looking at you, Skadden)?

The relative calm is in marked contrast to the hype coming from the folks who speak at conferences and write about how they retain counsel in online forums. We’ve reported on convergence programs, alternative fee arrangements, the use of metrics, and value challenges. You could be under the impression that picking a law firm has become an exercise driven exclusively by math and cold, hard logic.