Staying with the outside counsel you know is the theme of Corporate Counsel’s third annual “Who Represents America’s Biggest Companies” survey.

Staying with the outside counsel you know is the theme of Corporate Counsel’s third annual Who Represents America’s Biggest Companies survey.

While some in-house lawyers say they are eager to break long-standing ties with firms in exchange for outside counsel with more attractive fee arrangements, most GCs stick with the large firms they know and trust. “It’s like the old Joe Isuzu ads,” says Newport Beach, Calif., legal consultant Peter Zeughauser. “General counsel may say one thing, but they often do the opposite.”

In our annual survey, we ask the Fortune 250 law departments which law firms they rely on the most. The same Am Law 200 firms have turned up at the head of the list, with little variation, in the three years that we’ve compiled the survey. “There’s a certain degree of comfort in the big names,” says Rees Morrison, a principal at the Somerset, N.J.–based legal consultant firm Hildebrandt International Inc. “And companies feel they’re burnishing their reputation by associating with a Skadden or a Kirkland Ellis,” he adds. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom was deposed as the “most mentioned” firm across all categories. It slipped to second place — with the caveat that fewer companies participated in our survey this year. And Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, last year’s No. 2, slid to No. 7. But the other 2003 leaders were among the most mentioned firms this year: Davis Polk & Wardwell was the new leader; Jones Day, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, and Kirkland & Ellis retained top spots.

Even though in-house lawyers are under pressure from senior management to shave costs, they don’t shop around for the cheapest law firm, especially when it comes to big lawsuits and acquisitions. “Law is not a price-sensitive kind of buy. Companies are buying the brand name and the experience behind it,” says Andrew Razeghi, of the Chicago-based consulting firm Strategic Lab.

Most mentions:

Davis Polk is the new all-around leader, representing the most companies on our list in five practice areas. Last year Skadden led the pack.
Davis Polk 35
Jones Day 32
Skadden 32
Kirkland & Ellis 31
Morgan, Lewis 28
Littler Mendelson 27
Sidley Austin 26
Baker Botts 21
King & Spalding 21
Mayer, Brown 21
Seyfarth Shaw 20
Winston & Strawn 20
Hunton & Williams 19
Simpson Thacher 19
Gibson, Dunn 17
Covington & Burling 16
Cravath 16
Howrey 16
O’Melveny & Myers 16
(Corporate Counsel, November 2004)

Kirkland & Ellis gets a decisive win in this contest.
Firm Mentions
Kirkland & Ellis 16
Jones Day 10
Winston & Strawn 10
King & Spalding 9
O’Melveny & Myers 9
Sidley Austin 9
Fulbright & Jaworski 8
Holland & Knight 8
Mayer, Brown 8
Skadden 8

Labor and Employment

Boutique firm Littler Mendelson is the industry leader two years in a row.
Firm Mentions
Littler Mendelson 22
Seyfarth Shaw 18
Morgan, Lewis 17
Jackson Lewis 11
Paul, Hastings 9
Jones Day 6
Akin Gump 5
Fisher & Phillips 5
Baker & Hostetler 4
Epstein Becker 4
Ford & Harrison 4
Orrick 4
Proskauer Rose 4
(Corporate Counsel, November 2004)

Intellectual Property

Order the “2004 Who Counsels Who” Bundle

Firm Mentions
Howrey 8
Kirkland & Ellis 8
Finnegan, Henderson 6
Baker Botts 5
Jones Day 5
Alston & Bird 4
Banner & Witcoff 4
Fish & Neave 4
Fitzpatrick, Cella 4
Leydig, Voit 4
(Corporate Counsel, November 2004)

Corporate Transactions

Order the “2004 Who Counsels Who” Bundle

Davis Polk and Skadden tie for the top slot.
Firm Mentions
Davis Polk 15
Skadden 15
Simpson Thacher 11
Sidley Austin 9
Baker & McKenzie 8
Jones Day 8
Mayer, Brown 8
Wachtell 8
King & Spalding 7
Cravath 6
Sullivan & Cromwell 6
(Corporate Counsel, November 2004)

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