Lackluster response levels by law firms to requests for proposals

ACCA/Serengetti’s 2004 Managing Outside Counsel Survey states (page 10 of the Executive Summary) “law firm responses to requests for competitive bids remain at a low level, an average of less than two responses for each request for proposals.”  A stunning finding, from my experience.

I have helped six law departments conduct a total of eight large-scale competitive bids.  With each, at least six law firms received the RFP and four or five of them responded.  If the law departments providing data to the ACCA/Serengetti survey were representative, and if they sent their RFPs to an array of firms, I cannot understand why they received on average fewer than two proposals.  Now, if they sent the RFP on average to three firms, the small reply rate makes sense.

Firms eagerly seek opportunities to compete for work, especially sizeable bundles of work.  Law departments always know a handful or more of capable firms that could handle the department’s work.  Put the two facts together and the response rates to a well-run RFP process ought to be well over half of the recipients.

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