Here's what I've been wondering for the past year or so:
1) Is there ever any reason why you would assign any legal work to an associate or junior partner directly, either barrister or solicitor-side? Or is it just easier and more efficient to go with an established partner that is a known quantity and work with(/lure away) the associates under her?
2) It must get incredibly tedious socializing with exterior counsel knowing that all of them are planning on making an ask for legal work at some point in the future. How do you stomach it? How can a service provider get/stay in the loop with your client without becoming annoying?
3) Since you socialize in an unguarded way with other in-house personnel more than we can, what advice would you give to those of us just starting to build our book of business? Chase startups? Do a secondment with you?
Caveat - I have enough bench strength that I rely very, very little on external counsel for day to day stuff. Things are thrown over that either require a specialty that I don't necessarily have on the bench or because of internal workloads.
1) Always have the associate/junior partner doing 99% of the work, since the 80/20 rule will always apply. Most legal work doesn't really need to be done by the $1000/hour partner. It just doesn't. Like, really just doesn't. Especially when it's my job to make sure the file is going the right way to achieve my objectives.
2) Meh. If you get along with whomever is trying to pitch you then it's not too much of a task. I'm quite open and honest with counsel that my need for external counsel is limited and specific. Frankly, I'd expect anyone who is trying to pitch me to understand that to begin with if they've done their homework.
3) Unfortunately I'm not much help here, other than to say that doing good work and building a solid reputation will eventually lead to clients calling you rather than you needing to chase after them. And the in house counsel bar, and the bar generally, does speak amongst itself as to who is "good" and who is "OMG don't even think of calling him/her/it"