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A prevalent view from law firms: “RFP’s are A Necessary Evil’

Law firm partners widely dislike RFPs, unless they by getting one they have an opportunity to secure work from a new client. If firms only see RFPs as bludgeons to shrink their margins, as the following quote asserts, they would have more justification for their animus.

“Of course, a primary reason for companies using RFP’s to begin with is to get the lowest price across all parties—which means that the ‘winner’ of the RFP may not be getting profitable work. In an RFP process, it’s not a guarantee that the lowest price will get the business, but it’s nearly certain that ‘bidders’ with pricing substantially above the lowest prices will be eliminated quickly from consideration.”

The querulous quote (with its sarcastic “winner” and “bidders”) comes from Bo Yancey, Director of Professional Services at Redwood Analytics on March 9, 2009. Yancey, however, is off base. RFPs go far beyond billing rates and care more about non-cost information. Cost is probably third or fourth on the list of attributes that RFP processes collect, analyze and decide on; clients care about expertise, knowledge of the industry, and bench strength, for example, much more.