Beauty parades not so popular, claims report

BEAUTY parades may be on the way out, with in-house lawyers using their own networks of contacts to choose

external lawyers, according to a survey of in-house lawyers.

Uxbridge-based legal consultants Coleman Newman Consulting says a survey of 16 legal directors has left the debate on the merits of beauty parades wide open.

Although a majority of in-house heads in the survey agreed tendering was the best way to control costs, one third of those questioned said beauty parades had no place in their business strategy.

Instead, the report says they chose to rely on “their own gathering of intelligence about law firms via their own network of contacts”.

“There seems to be a growing opinion that beauty parades are just a little passe and that a more analytical approach may become the norm in the future selection of law firms,” the report says.

But Julian Collins, British Coal Pension Schemes solicitor and former Law Society Commerce and Industry Group chair, warns against reading too much into the survey.

He says the figures are what he would have expected and show beauty parades have become established as a major tool for in-house lawyers but are not always appropriate given their expense and the time and effort they take to organise.

“Ten to 15 years ago when beauty parades hadn't been established, those figures would have been reversed,” he says.

The survey goes on to show City firms getting the lion's share of external work farmed out by the legal directors.

But it also gave encouragement to the niche firm with two thirds of the respondents saying they would actively seek out niche firms.

The survey says cold calling was a “definite no-no” for the majority of respondents, with 13 per cent claiming they rarely gave work as a result of such an approach.

However, a small group said they might consider it if the offer attracted them.