We assume you’ve read our Guide to Scorecards (if not, we subtly, very casually, actually-highly-suggest that you go back and check it out…) and are interested in the best ways to shortlist firms and engage outside counsel. Scorecards are here to assist, optimizing the partner evaluation process and helping assess matter scoping & fixed-fee options.
With scorecards, it’s important to use comprehensive scoring criteria to get a holistic picture of each firm/provider’s value proposition. Here, we’ve laid out some potential scoring criteria to consider when building and weighting your scorecard. We’ll also cover why these criteria are important in any modern-day client-supplier relationship.
- AFAs – Does the firm leverage alternative or appropriate fee arrangements? In your RFP, it is important to ask questions about flat fees, capped fees, and success fees (if applicable) to build out an AFA specific to your matter or project type. Most firms are receptive to these fee structures but may also respond with traditional billing metrics, such as hourly rates or fee estimates.
- Diversity – Hiring diverse outside counsel can bring new perspectives and innovative counsel to the table. Diverse teams are 15% more likely to have returns above the industry average mean. Most of PERSUIT’s RFP/RFI templates have pre-drafted questions assessing the diversity of those attorneys working on the matter. We also have a template for a diversity RFI you can use or draw questions from.
- Experience with the Judge – this could be an important distinguishing factor (particularly in litigation cases) that can give a firm an edge over others. Consider setting a metric within the question that allows responses to be measured on an apples-to-apples basis, so that scoring can be consistently applied. For example, ask for the number of matters worked on with a particular judge (and during which years of experience, as well as any additional qualitative commentary that evidences experience).
- Experience with Opposing Counsel – understanding how opposing counsel operates can yield significant value to the client in the form of speedier resolutions and more appropriate fee arrangements (i.e. given the likelihood that opposing counsel will file more motions). Consider a similar structure to Category 3 (“Experience with the judge,” above) when asking firms about experience with opposing counsel.
- Firm’s Assessment of Key Risks, Key Issues, and Strategies for Success – Identifying key risks to the client in the RFP response can shed important insight into the way the firm approaches its work, even before it has earned the right to represent the client. These can provide free, early insights before the engagement begins.
- Internal Reputation – Sometimes the best recommendation for a firm can come from within your organization. Check your organization’s internal firm rating system. Look for specific and fact-based reasons for why or why not your team would recommend a law firm.
- Practice Area/Industry Expertise – If your firm doesn’t regularly work in the right practice area or in your industry, you might be billed for more hours (the time it takes to get up-to-speed) than you expect and your matter objectives may be compromised.
- Price / Rates – Often, price is understandably the most heavily weighted factor. Still be wary of compromising your matter objectives by accepting the lowest bidding firm.
- Responsiveness – When you’re working on a tight deadline, consider how responsive your outside counsel needs to be. Let your firms know if you want high-touch or low-touch communication throughout the matter. The person running the RFP process may be best placed to score against responsiveness if you choose not to cover this in your questionnaire.
- Relationship – Having a synergistic relationship with your outside counsel may make or break your matter; and hiring a panel firm may have significant benefits to the client, since the firm will be more likely to adhere to client’s billing guidelines.
- Technology – Is your outside counsel innovative? The best firms properly leverage technology to bring you efficient and effective outside counsel.
- Value Add – What is the firm bringing to the table that other firms don’t have? This is where the ‘nice-to-haves’ might bump up a firm’s score when narrowing the list of firms to select.
We can’t stress enough how valuable a well-planned and well-executed scorecard is when evaluating and shortlisting firms. These measures allow clients to feel confident procurement decisions. Drop us a line, let us know what you think of this list.
Questions? Email Laura.Spalding@PERSUIT.com.