■ How much competition will you interject into the process to assess which
firms would deliver the best value on a particular matter? This can range
from informally speaking with a couple of trusted firms, to issuing an RFP
and soliciting terms from multiple firms (including some “brand new” firms)
to identify the best mix of quality, staffed talent, and cost.
■ Competition counts: Some law firms may object to higher levels of
competition, but there is a very reasonable conversation to be had about: (1)
the economic and commercial realities facing your company, which have
likely increased competitive pressures internally and externally across the
board, and (2) the opportunity for additional business for those law firms that
continually deliver the best value. It is also helpful to note the emphasis on
long-term value (i.e., quality, cost, and outcomes)—not to be confused with
just the lowest price. Executed correctly, value-based billing is a
management approach focused on success in the long term, with deeply
rooted incentives built on trust and mutual understanding.
■ Be sure to determine how reliable or believable a proposal is. Think about
a firm’s ability to meet budget historically. If warranted, adjust the figure to
an expected value that properly reflects the real likelihood of achieving it.
■ Be sure to determine whether the budget will be viewed as an estimate or a
quote. To what extent will you hold outside counsel accountable? Does the
plan include pre-agreed contingency or “safety valves” for unlikely but
possible deviations based on how the matter unfolds? This can be one of the
biggest determinants of value and savings.
■ In the end, trust is a key component in making these arrangements work.
Do client and firm believe that each will honor its commitments, behave
fairly, and be able to work together in good faith to address unanticipated