Karl D. Shehu

Document Type



Drawing upon the theoretical concepts of reputation and social networking, this article's main objective is to assess how investment banks choose external law firms. Using qualitative methods, I show that investment banks, to varying degrees, rely on internal counsel, procurement specialists, and boards of directors to decide which firm to select. When choosing a specific law firm for the first time, corporate decision-makers are likely to evaluate law firms based on intangible factors like reputation and the word-of-mouth referrals of their colleagues. In subsequent selections of a law firm, these factors are transplanted by past results. Firm expertise and cost considerations impact procurement decisions regardless of whether a law firm has been previously retained. Despite claiming that the individual lawyers providing the service is a more important selection criterion than the firm that employs those lawyers, investment banks seem to experience a degree of embeddedness that keeps them using the same firms time after time.