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Three animadversions regarding RFPs, and my counter-points

A gathering of inside and outside counsel tackled some of the issues related to value by law firms in litigation, including Requests for Proposal sent to them. An article in the ACC Docket, May 2011 at 130, presented four criticisms, each of which motivated me to respond.

“Clients may use [RFPs] to leverage current relationship firms with the threat of sending the business elsewhere.” Yes, and what’s your point? An RFP process opens up competition for work, it tells incumbent firms not to feel entitled and complacent, and it “threatens” a change in where and how litigation services are done. Exactly, so why are law firms whining about this?

“Firms may not intend to do what they bid.” If at all common, this is a shocking admission of dishonesty. Deliberate deception destroys the value and credibility of RFPs. Any law department that concludes a law firm lied about what the level of service it would provide should fire the firm.

“RFPs are hugely expensive for both in-house and outside counsel.” I have done dozens of them as a consultant and I don’t see cost inside as any issue. RFPs are done for important bundles of legal work and the investment, such as it is, is appropriate. What law firms spend on responding is not much of a concern to law firms. If firms overwork them, so much the worse for them.

“[T]he model form should be short and simple, with the ability to attach more information on the baseline categories.” I agree with the first part, but if you open the floodgates you will be deluged with feckless marketing blurb.