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Corporate Counsel‘s sibling publication, The American Lawyer, recently looked at who counsels the businesses on Forbes‘s Largest Private Companies list. The American Lawyer asked those 257 companies to name their in-house and primary outside counsel in four areas: general corporate, IP, litigation, and labor and employment. Many companies on the Forbes list take their private status to heart. Eighty-five responded to the survey � or, in the case of number one company Cargill, Incorporated, it appears on the chart because The American Lawyer did enough reporting to piece together an unofficial list of its outside firms. The others declined to identify their chosen counsel. (Cargill, in fact, went so far as to alert its outside firms not to cooperate with the magazine’s reporters.) The American Lawyer chose three companies to illustrate how the in-house/outside counsel relationships developed. At Bloomberg L.P., the company founded by New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, a chance referral more than 20 years ago created a career-making client for Willkie Farr & Gallagher’s Richard DeScherer. A connection provided by a private equity firm put Debevoise & Plimpton on Kinko’s, Inc.‘s Rolodex. And for Stater Bros. Holdings Inc., smaller is better. The Southern California grocer sends most of its work to a 12-lawyer Riverside, California, firm, but it can call in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher when it needs more firepower. More than a few smallish firms appear on the chart, evidence that these privately held clients � often family-owned enterprises that prize long-term relationships � are content not to mimic their Fortune 500 counterparts when it comes to equating size with quality. That’s certainly the case at L.L. Bean, Inc., the well-known outdoorsy mail-order company from Freeport, Maine. For more than four decades, Bean’s favored firm has been Brann & Isaacson, now with 18 lawyers, in nearby Lewiston, Maine. Besides a well-earned national expertise in the law affecting direct marketing companies, Brann & Isaacson gets something else � something more personal. “We not only practice law with them,” says the firm’s George Isaacson, Bean’s outside general counsel. “We also hike with them and kayak with them.” That’s an image many a Wall Street lawyer can ponder the next time a looming securities filing keeps everyone holed up in a conference room for an all-nighter.
The Who Counsels Who database names law firms representing the largest public and private companies in corporate representation, litigation, IP and labor and employment. The searchable, sortable spreadsheet is a tool for competitive intelligence and market research needs. Look to LegalMarketInfo for your market intelligence needs. To purchase the entire 2003 “Who Represents Who” Database, detailing outside counsel for America’s largest publicly held and privately held corporations in a searchable, sortable spreadsheet, click here.

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