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Richard Gray is not fond of surprises. But that’s precisely what happened once when Gray, general counsel at Claria Corp., was on a conference call with the company’s board of directors and his outside counsel brought up a potential problem for the first time. “That’s not a warm and fuzzy feeling,” he says. “It worked out fine, but I should never be put in that position.” Surprises are only one of the things that outside counsel are advised to keep out of their repertoire if they want to earn a GC’s love. According to a study published earlier this year by BTI Consulting Group Inc., a Massachusetts-based legal consulting firm, only about 30 percent of GCs nationwide were satisfied with their primary law firms in 2005, down from 43.5 percent the previous year. The picture was a little rosier in Northern California, but satisfaction still dropped from 60 percent in 2004 to below 57 percent last year. BTI attributes the decline to three main factors: law firms’ failure to keep up with a GC’s changing needs, an inability to articulate the value of services delivered and poor communication. The survey included more than 1,000 interviews with corporate counsel at large companies. Squeezed by budget constraints and pressure from boards of directors, GCs are reacting to shoddy work performed by outside counsel by demoting and replacing their primary law firms and spreading the wealth among a larger network of secondary firms. Nothing is more dangerous than a client who’s left to assume a lawyer is playing golf or, worse, napping on their dime. So it’s always a good idea to regularly gauge client satisfaction and keep aware of the following admonitions that in-house attorneys have articulated over the years:

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