Clients are in the driver’s seat these days. Lawyers, even partners at prestigious and profitable firms, must bow and scrape before in-house counsel to land engagements.

It won’t be long before beauty contests actually include, well, beauty contests. What rainmaker worth his or her salt wouldn’t strip down to a swimsuit if required to do so as a condition of being hired? (Assuming that seeing the lawyer in swimwear would actually appeal to the client, that is.)

Not long ago, some Biglaw partners had to humiliate themselves in order to land a major matter. What did they have to do for the deal?

This report comes to us from the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.):

Mergers and acquisitions pros like their pricey duds: $5,000 suits, $200 Hermès silk ties and $1,300 John Lobb shoes. But a deal’s a deal, and sometimes that means shopping at Men’s Wearhouse.

Men’s Wearhouse? The horror, the horror!

The attorneys at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, which advised Men’s Wearhouse on its recent deal to purchase rival Jos. A. Bank, shrugged off Armani and Zegna in favor of $600 suits by Joseph Abboud — a once-prestigious brand now owned by Men’s Wearhouse.

They were “custom-made,” points out partner Steven Seidman, who says he donned a light blue number with a subtle plaid pattern to several meetings during the six-month negotiation period.

Okay, they were actually Joseph Abboud suits and were custom-made. The court takes note of these mitigating factors.

And the Willkie lawyers’ sartorial sacrifice was appreciated by the client:

“If you’re coming in to make a pitch to a client that you’re going to be charging a lot of money to, you should understand their product,” says David Edwab, vice chairman of the board of directors for Men’s Wearhouse.

You’re gonna like the way we pump up your partner profits. We guarantee it!

And who knows, maybe Men’s Wearhouse will generate some repeat business for Willkie. Land one billion-dollar acquisition, get three additional deals for free?

What are some of the most humiliating things you’ve had to do, or heard of others doing, in order to land a big client? Feel free to email us or post in the comments.

(Two videos you might enjoy, on the next page.)


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