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RFP processes apply much more broadly than just to commodity legal services

Previous posts have disagreed with the ideas of Bo Yancey, Director of Professional Services at Redwood Analytics, on March 9, 2009, about RFPs. Here is my third disagreement with Yancey.

“In the end, firms and clients are best served working closely together to understand each other’s needs and values, and arrive at pricing structures that fit up with the value delivered. This can only be achieved over time, with commitment from both sides. It can’t be accomplished through concepts like RFP’s, which measure only cost and work best when applied to commodity products. While RFP’s are supposed to allow those using them to compare “apples to apples” with cost as a differentiator, not all businesses sell fruit. Service levels, client-specific knowledge and “win-win” pricing can’t be achieved or measured through an RFP.”

Yancey must not see what I see in my consulting projects: every kind of service in the legal orchard has been put out to bid by requests for proposal. To clarify that metaphor and emphasize the point, law departments have selected law firms through an RFP process for every legal service imaginable – it is a management technique most fruitful.