The Chicago Tribune had a great article in Monday’s business section discussing how to hire a lawyer. The first suggestion is to get referrals from colleagues. This is a good suggestion, but also a dangerous one. Colleagues’ thoughts are valuable, but anyone who has been on a bad blind date knows that you cannot rely too heavily upon the recommendations of even trusted friends and colleagues when it comes to complex, personal matters. And hiring counsel is both complex and personal. Whether you are the GC of a Fortune 100 or a small business owner, your relationship with outside counsel on a litigation or business deal is a very personal one. You need counsel who can achieve your legal goals and communicate effectively with you, but that is not enough. You also need counsel that is sensitive to your business model and the constraints of your industry, eager to work with you and willing to follow your direction in the matters you give them. And, maybe more important than all of these, you need counsel that is honest with you. When you interview potential counsel – and you should interview any new counsel before hiring them – listen to what they have to say about your case. They should tell you about their plan for your success, but they should also identify problems with the case. If they do not, that should raise a red flag. A lawyer who does not warn you about problems at the outset of a representation, is less likely to do it later. And not learning about problems with your case can be very expensive. For example, not learning that new discovery shows that your claims are not as strong as you originally expected can cause a case, and the related attorneys’ fees, to drag on when you would be settling if you knew the real state of the case. So, in addition to getting referrals and interviewing, also try to gauge whether you can trust new counsel to give you a dispassionate review of your case and warn you of any problems quickly.