No grounds for “moving away from the RFP mentality of too many law departments”

An article in Strategies: J. of Legal Marketing, Vol. 11, Aug. 2009 at 4, offers thoughts by Susan Hackett about the ACC Value Challenge. Along the way she explains that the initiative is trying to move away from the billable hour, and then continues with a sentence that seems out of touch with the real world. “Likewise, we will push for a movement away from the RFP mentality of too many law departments. Some of these departments have forgotten it is necessary to reward firms that respond to the client’s call for value-based practices and make large-scale institutional changes to their business methods, staffing, compensation service models in order to provide them.” (emphasis added)

Reward firms? More business is a firm’s reward and RFPs help decide which of them deserve it. Law department managers do not toss off RFPs as trivial exercises, a ho-hum way to pick counsel. From conferences, reading widely and consulting, I sense nothing like an “RFP mentality” prevalent among US law departments. If “RFP mentality” means an effort to bring more market knowledge and discipline to selection of law firms, yes, that is slowly arriving and long overdue. Well-run firms should not bleat and moan.

Were general counsel to find a law firm that in meaningful ways embodied in its business model more cost consciousness and value delivered than is normally found among firms today, those general counsel would be glad to forgo RFPs and turn more extensively to that law firm.

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