By contributing author Brad Blickstein, Blickstein Group, on legal service providers:
It seems that legal service providers, especially in process-heavy areas like e-discovery, come from three different schools of technology selection. There’s the “agnostic” school: “We may have our favorites, but we can work with anything.” There’s the “build it” school: “We use our own technology.” And finally the “preferred partner” school: “These are the partners we work with all the time.” Many are a combination.
Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Agnostics claim that they can best work with technology you already like–or they can recommend the “best in breed”–but it may be hard to know which firm to hold accountable. Builders can be held fully accountable, but their technology may not be as good as some provided by a company that specializes in building those applications. Partners seem like a good compromise, but very often companies choose their partners not only for quality but also for financial reasons (e.g. revenue sharing arrangements).
What’s a buyer to do? At minimum, make sure that whomever you write the checks to knows they’ll be accountable. And if they are recommending other service providers or partners, probe carefully as to why.