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You can’t remove subjectivity from the RFP review process

The Texas Lawyer, Vol. 21, Dec. 5, 2005 contains a long description of Pfizer’s P3 process (Pfizer Partnering Program) to select a panel of product liability litigation firms. One of the Pfizer lawyers commented that P3’s goal was to “totally eliminate subjectivity” from the process. The view was to “make them [the law firms] show off for you, and measure the quality of the individual players … by a reasoned assessment of objective markers.”

It can’t be done. It is not possible to rely only on objective measurable characteristics to choose firms for work more sophisticated than the lowest-level, completely rate-driven commodity service (See my post of May 19, 2006 on BP and the 30 factors it uses.). It is possible to score responses of law firms on a scale, but that scoring is inherently subjective. The selection of law firms depends on a gestalt, a combination of objective and subjective factors that a human mind juggles.