Law firms want to provide their qualifications in the best possible light in response to a Request for Proposal (RFP). In order for them to do this, procurement professionals need to provide clear and concise information.
Lawyers need to understand your needs. But your view of expertise and great service might differ from their view, so to get better responses from law firms, you need to communicate what you really want and expect.
TIPS FOR BETTER RFPS:
COMMUNICATE CLEARLY: Communicate clearly about the expertise and service you expect. Don't assume the firms know or understand your needs. Vague terms like “efficiency” or “project management” mean different things to different people. For example, are you referring to technology or programs?
CUSTOMIZE YOUR RFP: Terminology and jargon used in other professional services industries does not always fit with legal services. Be careful when you “cut and paste” questions from other RFPs. Tailor your RFP in order to save valuable time responding to numerous questions for clarification.
GLOBAL REQUESTS FOR SERVICE: Customize your terminology for the country that is receiving your RFP. For example, 401s and 10Ks are U.S. terminology.
EVALUATION CRITERIA: Provide evaluation criteria and the weighting for responses. This will help law firms understand what is important to you.
FEE QUOTES: When asking for fee quotes, provide information about the scope and volume. Asking for a fixed fee without providing information will not get you the outcome you desire. Ask to speak with the law firm’s “number crunchers” when negotiating fees as you speak the same language.
TEST SOFTWARE AND SPREADSHEETS: Test your software and spreadsheets before sending out the RFP (perhaps test it outside of your company) to make sure it works. This will prevent a last minute panic for your procurement department not to mention the law firms.
PROVIDE A CHECKLIST: Insert a checklist to ensure that the law firm includes all relevant documents. You may lose a great candidate if any mandatory information is omitted.
Nancey Watson is a legal business development and proposal consultant. She strategizes, develops pricing strategies, and writes proposals for law firms – global, national, mid-size and boutique. She is a catalyst for opening the dialogue between procurement and law firms and has created a series of seminars on the topic “How Procurement Impacts Law Firm Selection”. Reach her at 416 436 1375, or firstname.lastname@example.org.