Even if competitive selections aren’t pre-ordained, how often do they even bless a change?

Interviewing law firms recently about the effects on them of a major convergence effort, I heard one partner say “Out of every ten of these programs, five to six never get past the RFP stage.” Few companies that launch an RFP expedition ever actually reach land. “Companies want to reduce fees but in the end and for various reasons they never go forward,” complained the partner. A couple work the program but the rest start a big process that demands time and attention on both sides, but then fail to consummate. A major financial firm, for example, set in train huge efforts by 50 law firms but nothing happened.

Sometimes this happens, I’m sure, but such a high rate of aborted efforts? The projects I consult on carry through, but that may be in some part because of the fees paid, the deeper commitment to the process, or even possibly the consultant’s abilities. Otherwise, all that work on an RFP process, inside and outside, and nothing to show. If this perception of likely fizzle holds among law firms, then the failure to implement exacerbates the propensity of firms to suspect that a favored incumbent has already gotten the nod.

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