Five Reasons to Hire Local Counsel
In a service business like the practice of law, many lawyers firmly believe we can service all of our client’s needs, whatever they are and wherever they take us. Because many of us are believe that clients want one-stop shopping for all of their legal services, we want to “do it all” irrespective of whether that is in the client’s best interest. Many lawyers view other lawyers as direct competitors, even if their practices differ geographically or in terms of subject matter.
It isn’t so much as we’re worried the other lawyer will do a better job for our client (though they might). It is simply the fact that partnering with another lawyer or law firm will take the opportunity to aggressively pursue our client, to take it/them away from us permanently. Why would we let the proverbial fox into the hen house?
We also worry that our recommendation for the client to hire another lawyer and that lawyer do a less-than-stellar job or overcharge our client, or both, it will reflect poorly on us. It will, on some level, at least if we are involved in selecting and/or hiring the associated professional. Quality and responsive local counsel is as important as any other member of your trial team.
Reclaim the Home-Town Advantage
You need to hire local counsel when your client is going to get “home-towned.” What does this mean? I see “home-towned” as any instance in which your client could suffer prejudice from the fact you are foreign to the jurisdiction. This is not always readily apparent, and could require some impression gathering from colleagues or acquaintances.
Local Rules are a Trap for the Unwary
Hire local counsel when you’re in a venue that has strange or unfamiliar procedural rules. In Connecticut, we have unique procedural rules which require the knowledge and experience of local counsel. Further, many of the procedures for our motion calendar (short calendar) and trial management conferences aren’t written down. There is nothing more comforting than being able to pick up the phone and talk to someone who regularly appears in the particular court, before the particular judge.
Balance the Scales of Local Relationships
Hire local counsel when it’s otherwise a good idea and you can hire someone whom your judge knows and respects. This can be particularly important if your opposition knows the judge well. This isn’t to say that hiring a local counsel will curry favor with the judge – it won’t. However, familiar faces help.
Do you speak the local language/dialect?
Hire local counsel when you expect the entire jury will speak with an accent you don’t have. While few might recognize a “Connecticut” accent, many in Connecticut might recognize your accent and form opinions accordingly.
Is the client facing Geographic Prejudice?
Hire local counsel when there’s a reason to think some past event or news will cause your client to suffer geographical prejudice. Did your client just shutter a factory in the town where you’re about to start trial, putting hundreds or thousands out of work? You’re going to need to deal with that, and a local perspective will be valuable.
In closing, hiring local counsel doesn’t mean your client needs to break the bank with yet another full-time billing machine. Often, it will suffice to have the local counsel merely available for consultation purposes, or to help pick the jury, or participate in a particular hearing. The additional investment should be minimal and could pay dividends.
If you have a question about appearing pro hac vice in state court or federal court in Connecticut, local counsel services, or appearing as a visiting lawyer before a state agency or in an arbitration proceeding in Connecticut, please feel free to call Attorney John Radshaw in New Haven today at (203) 654-9695. For more information about Attorney Radshaw and his practice, visit www.jjr-esq.com.