Sainsbury’s general counsel Nick Grant has challenged the eleven firms on his legal panel to compete against each other in a novel way. He asked the firms introduce their other clients to Grant so they can pitch a new product or service to be sold on the supermarket’s shelves. Five of the companies will present their ideas to a group of Sainsbury’s directors, who will choose one winner.
In total, Sainsbury’s reviewed 16 pitches. Ideas included a fizzy drink called Carbonaid, which would put a portion of profits into carbon reduction schemes, a business selling designer chairs, an IT company and an entrepreneurial school.
Grant said that the initiative, which he intends to run annually, is more than just a distraction from the serious business of solving legal issues. “[The question is] how does our legal community add to Sainsbury’s?” he said. “Community is about the flow of ideas, not just me sucking value out of a firm then dispensing with it. Firms will hopefully be proud of [having referred] clients in these hard times.”
A general counsel who asks the department’s primary law firms to help build the company’s business gives a new twist to the notion of the department as a “profit center” (See my post of April 27, 2008: profit center with 18 references.).
Hats off to Patrick McKenna who passed on this interesting item from Legal Week.