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Beyond the traditional RFP to law firms

At RBC Financial Group (part of the Royal Bank of Canada), the law department uses an internal survey to ask its lawyers to rate on a scale of one to 100 the performance of the firms they use. The numeric ratings matter, “but the most useful information is often the anecdotal comments provided in the survey responses.”

Moreover, as described in LEXPERT, Vol. 8, July/Aug. 2007 at 64 by Richard Brzakala, law firm manager at RBC Financial Group, the law department has moved away from the traditional RFP structure and inquiries. Now they send out a “questionnaire” that includes such questions as “What distinguishes your firms culture from the competition?”, “What are your most successful partnering arrangements/experiences?,” and “Describe any successes involving innovation in the areas of law you have requested to do work for RBC.”

The questionnaire assumes that each firm can deliver first-class legal services and therefore does not ask as much as traditional RFPs do about staff and firm experience. The inquiry also shifts from quantitative information, such as billing rates, to qualitative responses.