This question, asked of the chief legal officer of the Mayo Clinic, John Oviatt, elicited an interesting reply: “Very much so. Legal services are just one more of many shared services within an organization. That’s how the C-suite views it, and so I think having a close working relationship with purchasing is very important. There are numerous examples of law departments that have actually had an assigned purchasing employee who assists them on their work. It’s the purchasing folks’ bread and butter, but it’s often foreign to lawyers. It’s not that we can’t learn; it’s just we’ve never had any reason to be trained in those things before.”
“Numerous examples” may not rise to a trend. And what are these procurement people doing other than assisting with competitive bids? Are their inputs to the law department making a difference?
In this regard, readers may be interested to know that Professor Silvia Hodges, Adjunct Professor at Fordham University School of Law, has been researching and writing regarding procurement and legal departments. Earlier this month she spoke on Power of the Purse: How Corporate Procurement is Influencing Law Firm Selection at Harvard’s Program on the Legal Profession.