When is the last time you refreshed your panel of firms?  Even for a single practice area?  If more than five years have elapsed, you have much to gain from a panel update.  Many things change over the course of five years—both at law firms and in your business.  This shares the results from a recent practice area panel update at BanyanRFP.  It makes the power of a panel refresh abundantly clear.

The Client’s Objective:

A large, multi-national company is in the process of refreshing its panel of law firms, practice area by practice area.  As part of that larger process, this client ran an RFP to update its global immigration counsel.  The client was willing make a three-year commitment to the selected firms.  Ten (10) firms were invited to participate, including the incumbent, with whom they were happy.  In keeping with the times, two of the Big Four accounting firms that now offer legal services were also invited.

The Practice-Area Panel Refresh:

The RFP estimated the client’s annual immigration work by geography, by VISA type.  It also included an additional bucket of hours allocated against general consultation work.   Since the client estimated volume for each VISA type by geography, it was easy for the firms to understand how much work was on offer and where the work needed to be executed. The client was also specific about what levels of staff in which they were interested.

The Results:

Much to the client’s surprise, the results of the RFP were dramatic. The spread on average rates was 57% and its incumbent’s proposal was among the most expensive.  The spread on total fees from the average offer to the most expensive offer was 41%.  Interestingly, but not unexpectedly, the two Big Four accounting firms’ proposals were quite competitive.  The benefits of each’s global network of offices and well-oiled processes came clear.  Whatever firms the client selects, there are material savings to be had.  Additionally, the client stands to benefit greatly from improved service along with legislative and regulatory experts in countries where its incumbent did not have a direct presence.

Lessons Learned?

It is important to refresh your panel every three years or so.  In this instance, the client had been happy with its incumbent, and hadn’t considered that they could be overpaying.  This client hadn’t put the immigration work out for bid in more than five years.  In that amount of time, the client’s business had grown and changed.  Eight years ago its immigration work was primary domestic.  Now, 60% of its immigration work is international.  The client had simply outgrown its incumbent firm and will benefit greatly from an alternate firm with a global footprint and well-entrenched international network.  Happily, the client will also save at least $1.5 million dollars by making the change.

About the Author:  Kathy Heafey is President of BanyanRFP, a cloud-based RFP platform that helps companies control spend on legal services. She has over 20 years of management experience working with large brands such as Pillsbury, Green Giant and Progresso Soup.   A proven leader in Cost Management and Continuous Improvement, she enabled over $20MM in annual cost-savings for General Mills and is now saving in-house legal teams millions of dollars as they find best-fit counsel for their legal work.  For more information, visit www.BanyanRFP.com

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