The General Counsel of Kaplan Inc., Janice Block, spoke on a panel at the InsideCounsel SuperConference. She described a quick-step process by which her legal team selects law firms to handle certain matters. When an appropriate new matter comes in, they pick six law firms and send them an e-mail with the basic information about the matter. Kaplan gives the firms 48 hours to respond with their strategic approach, their proposed staffing, and the key tasks they foresee. She did not mention a budget, but that might also be part of the response. She also did not say how much the Kaplan legal team knew about the firms beforehand, but I presume they knew enough to entrust any of them with the work.
Block added that often they narrow the group down to three and invite those finalists to come in for an interview. This selection with alacrity makes sense.