Edge International

Power tools for general counsel: Creating RFPs that really deliver the goods

Exponential expansion in the use of Requests for Proposals (RFPs) has placed a powerful tool in the hands of general counsel — one that they use with uneven skill. Here are the pitfalls to avoid and the keys to making RFPs clear, fair and effective.

Recently, the general counsel of a major corporation met with us to discuss consulting support for a Request for Proposal (RFP) process that would winnow down the number of out-

side law firms they would use in the future. But he mentioned an astonishing twist: “Of course, we’ve already selected the firms we’ll use.”

When I asked why they would go through an expensive and time-consuming exercise (for them and for law firms that responded) when the outcomes were already determined, the GC replied: “Well, to make the selection process look fair.” It turns out that the real purpose of this was not to select the best counsel, but to avoid hard conversations and potential acrimony with the firms that would be “deselected.”