6 Pet Peeves of Corporate Legal Departments when Receiving Request For Proposals (RFPs) from Law Firms

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The process for running an RFP for legal services is not always an easy one (quick plug – it certainly is with PERSUIT!). Frustrations can arise between corporate law departments and the law firms they’re surveying for services.

What are those frustrations and how can law departments and law firms work together to achieve the best outcome? How can we make the process for responding to RFPs easier? 

What can the law firm do?

  1. Keep it short and to the point – When providing a response, avoid long, confusing answers. Brief text responses (e.g., 500 max characters) with a strong thesis to pertinent questions are ideal.

  2. Adhere to the scope – When asked to confirm prescribed scope, stick to the parameters / number of activities (e.g., client says 10 depositions, but law firm prices based on 15 because the law firm predicts more than 10).

  3. Respect the client’s fee structure – When providing a response to a particular fee arrangement proposal (e.g., fixed fee), try to remain receptive to the proposal. Clients grow frustrated if they’re offered a different fee structure (capped, or back to the traditional hourly rate model). 
    1. When addressing fees, provide a fixed fee if the client specifically asks for a fixed fee. Estimates are a dissatisfactory response to the client.

  4. Don’t circumvent the system – When using RFP technology to source legal services, like PERSUIT, don’t attach sheets or documents; enter answers where prompted on the platform. This allows the platform to create a side-by-side comparison and automate the process. This makes it easier for the clients and it reflects positively on the firms.

  5. Avoid excessive exclusions or caveats – When writing a response to a proposal, too many exclusions or caveats will decrease the client’s confidence in the viability of the proposal.

  6. Adjust where necessary – When asked to bid, take the opportunity to make your offer more competitive and avoid relying solely on an existing relationship with the client to win the work.

Simple Rules for Success:

Law departments issue RFPs for legal services to ensure they’re making the right choice of law firm for that particular matter. As an overall rule-of-thumb, stick to the RFP’s instructions and don’t ignore or bypass specific asks from the client. If you follow these steps, your responses will be attractive to the client.  Law departments desire apples-to-apples comparisons – adhering to the given RFP format gives them just that!