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Seven tips for more effective RFPs by a law department

My article on how to craft more effective requests for proposals appears in Corp. Counsel, Vol. 14, Sept. 2007 at 84.

The more I consult to RFP projects, the more I realize you have to tell law firms fairly precisely what you want back from them. Open-ended questions such as ‚ÄúPlease describe alternative fee arrangements you might propose” will not give you sufficient specificity.

If, however, you outline the four parameters that will govern the fee arrangement — perhaps tiered discounts, rates frozen for a certain time, an expected bonus range, and the three lawyers who work most on the project — you are more likely to get back comparable and useful responses.

A second tip that I would add, which is not in the article, is that you cannot foresee when you first prepare and send out an RFP all that you will need to ask for. You must study the first-round responses and then shape a more specific and narrower second request of those law firms that make the cut.