How long does an RFP process take? Here are some guidelines, but the bottom line is that three months should accomplish it. That means that this process doesn’t fit if you need to select a firm to represent you in a major lawsuit just filed against you. There are ways to streamline this for such a situation.
Two weeks to draft RFP. Once you decide to bid out some chunk of legal work, you should be able to draft a straightforward RFP in two weeks (See my post of Sept. 28, 2008: questions, boilerplate etc.).
Three weeks with the firms. Give firms a week to read and think about the RFP and formulate their questions. Answer the firms’ questions in a week and give them another week to prepare their proposal.
Two weeks for second round. Take two weeks to analyze the proposals, decide on a short list of firms, and feed back to them whatever additional data or responses to their assumptions you see fit.
Give the short-list firms one more week to cogitate further and sharpen their pencils.
Take another week to interview a firm or two and choose the winner.
Take two weeks to negotiate the agreement, which assumes you have included in the second round step a form of the agreement.