Preparing for my upcoming webinar on September 30th about RFPs to law firms, I pulled together four recommendations that I have not written about.
1. Anticipate questions. Once your Request for Proposal (RFP) is in good shape, have two lawyers who were not involved in the type of matters covered by it or the drafting of it read the RFP carefully and critique it. They should scrutinize it not for writing style or typos but solely to spot ambiguities, missing information, and questions firm partners might want to ask. Then, do your best to answer those plausible questions or confront yourself as to why you can’t or won’t at least try to answer them. The more comfortable firms feel about the facts, the fewer explanations you will have to give later and the lower the fees they will propose.
2. Remove boilerplate (unless you are a government entity and required to include various provisions). Delete throat clearing at the beginning about “conscientious stewards of shareholder assets blah blah blah.” Firms know why you are seeking bids on work. They know you have no obligation to select a firm, that you can choose or withdraw as you will. Every firm knows they bear their own costs, their proposal remains your property of the issuer, and if they don’t follow your rules, you might disqualify them. What I do not consider to be boilerplate is the mandate that they not speak or write to anyone within the company about the RFP work except the named contacts.
3. Assuming you have outside counsel guidelines (See my post of July 7, 2008: guidelines for outside counsel with 16 references.), incorporate them by reference in your RFP. Doing so informs the bidding firms about your expectations, avoids clutter, and puts every firm on the same page.
4. Describe any measures of output and efficiency that you will use to monitor the work of the firm you select. These performance benchmarks are especially important in fixed-fee arrangements but even otherwise you want to have outcome and performance metrics to monitor and expect during the arrangement.