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Broad, essay questions as part of a competitive RFP process for legal services

The Texas Lawyer, Vol. 21, Dec. 5, 2005 details Pfizer’s 2004-05 P3 process (Pfizer Partnering Program) whereby it selected 24 go-to firms for product liability litigation. Pfizer’s 50 page RFP, divided into 12 sections, pushed the proposing firms hard, in part because of some questions that asked for the firms to think broadly about the pharmaceutical business.

For example, one question asked: “It is often said that the industry is not doing a good job of representing itself in the public domain. Do you agree? If so, what do you think the industry and Pfizer should be doing differently?”

I understand the desire of a law department to try to assay the values, creativity, and business knowledge of a firm. But law firms are hired for their experience dealing with legal issues, not their profundity on broad public policy questions. Further, there is no way to score firms on that question that is objective, a key goal of Pfizer’s P3 process (See my post of March 13, 2007 on “nothing subjective.”).