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The deepest Procurement threat to law departments: replacement by outside counsel

A recent article discusses the tensions between procurement (aka sourcing or purchasing) and legal. The sharpest sting comes at the end: most fundamentally Procurement threatens by “openly considering whether to maintain internal lawyers if an outside firm can do better quality work at a lower price.” You, inside lawyer, lose your job if an outside lawyer can do it cheaper and better and we, procurement, will actively search for those opportunities to supplant you.

A stark portrayal, perhaps correct in theory, but from my consulting experience the sourcing folks have gone nowhere near that apocalyptic vision. They are most grateful just to be included as advisors on competitive bidding processes or on evaluations of law firms. It would be a step much too far and treacherous for them to challenge the very jobs done by inside lawyers. Still, the creature with sharp teeth lies in wait as law firms can conceivably replace law departments.