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White Papers

The aim of our White Paper series is to disseminate detailed findings of our groundbreaking empirical research in a format targeted to the broader legal and business communities.

Corporate Purchasing Project: How S&P 500 Companies Evaluate Outside Counsel

This report marks the culmination of our Corporate Purchasing Project—more than four years of scholarly research dedicated to examination of the ways in which S&P 500 legal departments hire and manage outside counsel, drawing from six academic papers in varying stages of publication.

How are relationships between clients and service providers in the corporate legal market evolving, and why? Answering this critically important question requires both the availability of unbiased quantitative information about how large corporations make law firm hiring and assessment decisions and a robust qualitative and theoretical framework to evaluate broader variations and trends. Our novel empirical data is drawn from surveys and interviews of 166 chief legal officers (“CLOs”) of S&P 500 companies—one-third of all such large publicly traded companies.

Specifically we sought to explore four topics of substantial importance about which there is little systematic information:

  • How do these companies evaluate the quality of legal service providers when making hiring and legal management decisions?
  • Under what circumstances do these companies discipline or terminate their relationship with their law firms?
  • How do these companies evaluate whether to follow “star” lawyers when they change law firms?
  • In what ways do these companies manage the intersection between law and public relations?

Purchase the report.

FORTHCOMING: The Harvard Law School Career Study

In order to deepen our understanding of the careers of all Harvard Law School graduates and further explore issues relating to gender and work/life balance, the Program on the Legal Profession is pleased to announce the launch of the Harvard Law School Career Study.

The HLS Career Study is the Program’s latest effort to empirically study the legal profession in order to expand and deepen the overall understanding of lawyers and their careers. Important issues the study will evaluate include patterns of significant investments in work at various stages of legal careers and whether (and why) personal and professional transition patterns vary for women and men. The study also aims to understand the impact of globalized social and economic relations on matters such as legal practice settings, client relationships, and the training and development of lawyers.

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