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The National Law Journal asked four corporate counsel: How did you select the outside lawyers most recently retained by your company? These GCs are faithful to law firms they worked successfully with before, but they also consider favorable recommendations from respected colleagues and the expertise and experience of the firm relative to a particular problem. � Ronald Loeb, senior vice president, general counsel, Williams-Sonoma, San Francisco I am an alumnus of Irell & Manella (I&M), where I practiced for 38 years until I “retired” in 1997. During my retirement, which lasted about two years, I was teaching, writing and speaking about corporate social responsibility. While at I&M, Williams-Sonoma had been a client of mine, and Howard Lester, its chairman, CEO and principal shareholder, was a good friend. One night after my retirement when he and I were having dinner and the subject of legal fees again came up, I said to Howard that what he needed was a general counsel, and I offered to help him find someone. Shortly thereafter, Howard offered me the job. So I chose to continue to use I&M as our principal outside counsel. I liked and respected the lawyers there. I felt they had competencies in all the areas we would need. They knew the company well and, thus, could hit the ground running. So far, we have used them for two litigation matters, one of which is very important to us, a variety of corporate and corporate securities matters, several real estate transactions, tax matters and a limited amount of IP work (we continue to use a San Francisco firm for most of that). We continue to be very pleased with I&M. Now that I’m a client, rather than a lawyer, in that relationship, I watch their billings closely. We use other firms located in San Francisco and elsewhere for some of our work. � Michael Brizel, vice president and general counsel, Reader’s Digest Association Inc., Pleasantville, N.Y. Recently, Reader’s Digest announced that it was acquiring Reiman publications. We asked Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz to represent us in this transaction. The firm, and specifically Pat Vlahakis, has been a trusted advisor to our company since I became general counsel in 1998. Pat and her colleagues worked seamlessly with my in-house colleagues and staff, our business clients and our board of directors on several previous transactions, including, in 1999, on our highly successful and profitable business, Books Are Fun. Second, we were confident that Wachtell had the experience, knowledge of our business, expertise and staffing capabilities to handle the entire transaction, including the financing. And we selected them because our board of directors was very familiar with the firm and very comfortable with Pat partnering with our in-house legal team. � Charles Lotter, executive vice president, secretary and general counsel, J.C. Penney Company Inc., Dallas We use a number of firms around the country and have prescreened certain primary providers. On occasion, we may choose a firm based on competing presentations relative to a particular problem. Generally, we look for knowledge of the company and our industry and grasp of the legal work requested. We also consider qualifications, the billing rates of the attorneys available to staff our work and the fee arrangements offered, including early payment or other types of discounts. And we look at the technology the firm has to offer, such as document databases, courtroom graphics, intranets or extranets. The reasonableness of charges for nonlegal services is important, too. We consider the firm’s approach to litigation assessment, alternative dispute resolution and diversity. Outside counsel experience in mediation and arbitration is a plus for us, since many of our contracts have ADR clauses. Finally, we encourage the efforts of our firms to diversify by assignment of qualified minority and female lawyers to our work. � Pamela Bradford, senior vice president-legal affairs, general counsel, Calvin Klein Inc., New York We needed counsel for an area in which the company had limited experience. As a first step, we asked colleagues for their recommendations and the attributes of each lawyer they suggested. As part of the search, we also reviewed articles in periodicals highlighting attorneys who had been cited for a particular expertise, such as a top-10 kind of thing for a particular practice area. We then had internal discussions regarding our needs and who would be the most appropriate lawyer for the circumstances. In the course of these discussions, personal knowledge of the attorney and favorable recommendations from respected colleagues — who had worked with the attorneys — were most significant in making a determination. So far, so good. The experience of the law firm in handling this kind of matter has allowed us to avoid unnecessary costs in what for another firm might not have been so routine. The expertise of the attorney in charge and his responsiveness have allowed us to obtain immediate, direct responses to our questions, on which we can rely with confidence, without having to endure the expense of lengthy research or his having to consult with other lawyers before rendering an opinion.

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