More and more companies are issuing RFPs to hire outside counsel. While, RFPs are being sent to firms that clients already know and trust, clients are also seeking additional firms to add to their rosters or even to replace firms with whom they are dissatisfied. Some firms are even preparing to lose work to smaller, less expensive firms as the market pushes down rates for certain. All of this creates opportunity for smaller firms with specific expertise. Is your law firm RFP-ready?
Eliminate the Barriers to Entry
As I wrote in Part 1 of this series, firms need to focus on the right relationships; align marketing with business development; and engage in BD activities. When those actions get you invited to compete for work, are you prepared to respond? Most law firms feel ready to answer the basic questions included in any RFP for outside counsel:
- What do you do?
- Who will do the work?
- What is their experience?
- How much do you cost?
- Do you have a conflict?
Using content that exists on their own website, a typical firm can turn around a proposal that answers the first two questions. With a little more effort, most firms can answer question 3. Throw in some hourly rates and check the “no conflict” box and you’re good to go. Right?
Not so fast. In-house counsel and procurement leaders have likely already read your website content. They are looking for more depth, detail, and action. These are the things you would have been talking about with them as you’ve been doing your business development and relationship-building work. You’ll throw all that time and work away if you’re not prepared to talk about it face to face and ultimately put it in a proposal.
In addition, these common RFP questions go deeper and require thoughtful responses that reflect on how your firm operates to serve clients, rises to their challenges, protects their data, and adds value:
- How does your firm utilize AFAs? Provide examples.
- How will you learn about our company, industry, products, business needs?
- What is your firm’s commitment to diversity?
- How does your firm ensure that confidential information is secure?
- What is your firm’s disaster recovery plan?
- What education or training opportunities does your firm provide to clients?
- What is your firm’s commitment to client service?
Now is the time to take a hard look at all these questions, write responses for the ones you’re ready to answer, and craft business strategies and client service processes for the ones you’re not. Contact me. I can help you assess, describe, and develop what it takes to be RFP-ready.