Competitive bid processes should stress the even-handed distribution of information to all proposing law firms. To the best of the law department’s ability, it should allow no law firm to have privileged, inside information about the work being bid out. That goal – to balance the distribution of information – provides a strong argument for hosting at least one teleconference.
During the teleconference a week or so after the RFP goes out, all the proposing law firms can call in and ask questions. Their partners and marketing staff can then hear both the questions and the answers the same as everyone else. Callers should be able to ask questions anonymously. The give and take between law department participants and prospective proposers helps identify and clarify assumptions (See my post of Oct. 31, 2005 on the importance of assumptions for competitive bids.). The cost to put on a teleconference is nominal in relation to the time of all the parties and the value of work to be parceled out. The gains in improved proposals and an effective process are immeasurable.