Six firms in the United States serve all the considerable real estate legal needs of Starbucks. The company has negotiated fixed fees with those firms based on a fairly predictable volume of work that arises from expansion. For quite a while, hundreds of stores have been opened in the United States every year. This is a classic example where it makes sense to work out a fixed-fee representation: high volume, relatively predictable, extending over several years, and fairly standard services (See my posts of March 1, 2008 – 36 posts on fixed fees; and June 8, 2008: standardized legal work.).
In addition, all law firms that work with Starbucks on real estate matters in United States are invited to periodic conferences, which are held about every 18 months at the company’s headquarters.
Internationally, according to ACC Docket, Vol. 30, June 2008 at 46, Starbucks engages more than 30 law firms for its real estate work. Three firms handle the company’s real estate work in the United Kingdom alone. Given that real estate acquisition is a core competency of Starbucks, it makes sense for the law department to converge on a few good real estate practices.