Some law departments, those with tens of thousands of dollars spent on a disbursement, negotiate national contracts with vendors. The contracts lock in better rates, stronger performance guarantees, more committed resources, and other benefits. Some of those departments, having worked hard for their national deals, insist that their law firms use the national vendors.
Instances of this include temporary staff (See my posts of Jan. 10, 2006 on some cost comparisons; and April 9, 2006 on contract staff versus temporary staff.), photocopy services (See my posts of April 2, 2005 on unbundled services; and May 14, 2005 on shared copy costs.), service of process, litigation support (See my posts of Sept. 10, 2005 on costs; and Feb. 23, 2006 on patents for litigation support software.), legal research (See my post of Jan. 16, 2006 and a dubious piece of data.), and court reporters (See my post of Oct. 24, 2005 on FMC’s policies; and July 11, 2006 with some vendors.)
All of these examples include denizens of the cottage industry that live off law departments (See my posts during July, 2006 on several of these niches and the links cited.).