In-house counsel slam firm performance in panel reviews as 'complacent and lazy'

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  • Big 'strategic' panel procurements often produce bad results. Better for GCs to negotiate arrangements directly using personal contacts. For a good ideal of advisory support, it's actually much cheaper to go straight to barristers, especially if you've been able to negotiate some heavily preferential rates with some friendly senior clerks at relevant barristers' chambers. Also, high quality specialists at medium sized firms provide much better value than the big 6 - but you have to search out the right people - and that needs an experienced and canny GC.

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  • "The chat is better than the legal work"

    So true! I can think of one or two firms who have talked their way onto lots of panels in the last 18 months whose swagger is far greater than their expertise! It'll be interesting to see whether their ejection from future panels garners as much publicity as their admission.

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  • “law firms that don’t read our questions properly or insist on answering the questions they would rather you had asked”.

    Delicious irony.

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  • "Law firms shouldn’t simply rely on their supposed reputations and their positions in the directories.”

    Two problems: large firms may have a good reputtation overall all, but lawyers vary in quality from department to department. Anyone who replies on law directories is misguided, in my experience they are not great indicator of quality; more a good indicator of past quality or how good the BD team is.

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  • Big law Firms reward salesmen, not lawyers. They are run by puffmeisters for puffmeisters, and that is unlikely to change anytime soon. Style over substance is an inevitable consequence.

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  • Couldn't agree more with the sentiment for a badly-run process with poorly thought-through evaluation criteria but a bit of discipline and forethought from GCs in terms of what they are looking for (i.e. not just another few quid off the rate card) and a bit of sensible differentiation in understanding who you're engaging for what can pay dividends. And as another article is pointing out, there's a whole other dimension needed to actualy manage the panel once in place...

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  • This is Mitch Kowalski's book in living form!

    I take the point made that GCs need to articulate what they need. Is it not also the case that lawyers need to know how the rhetoric of business development is implemented day-to-day, so that they can deliver the service they promise?

    Its not enough to employ business-minded people to provide great sales material. Individual lawyers have to (a) want to provide excellent service and (b) know how to.

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  • The league tables in legal directories no longer have much credibility, especially out in the regions.

    The only way they could start to restore credibility is if they ignored the standings from previous years and made their assessments from scratch.

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  • So "a leading City figure" thinks procurement specialists don't have the brains to think beyond basic generic supplies such as stationery - and therein proves the arrogance of the headline. Many lawyers should stop thinking that every other job is done by thickies. Most of their clients are very good at what they do - but not at dealing with legal matters, hence instructing external counsel. Makes sense if you stop and think about it. However, many lawyers (and this includes partners who I've worked for at a Magic Circle firm) prefer to treat their clients as being lucky they've instructed such wonderfully intelligent people to help them out.

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  • From experience, panel reviews run by in-house lawyers are far better than panel reviews run by procurement people. Buying pencils is not the same but, unfortunately, the processes are exactly the same and so are the questions. As a result, all you get is a price debate in the latter, which is ludicrous.

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  • As a former GC who partnered well with the procurement teams, having spent a great deal of time on preparing a lengthy tender a few years ago - which was focused very precisely on our needs- I was left speechless at the response from one of the then current incumbents.
    Not only were our questions ignored completely, but no formal response was provided at all, apart from pricing and a load of marketing material.
    A gaggle of people turned up to deliver a presention to our panel, most contributed nothing, and the lead lawyer actually read to our panel from some scribbles on scraps of paper, torn from a shorthand notebook ( and which had obviously been written on the way to the meeting).
    The senior partner contributed nothing much, apart from a few bad jokes, and sat winking at the women on the panel.
    No prizes for guessing what happened.....

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  • I think you law guys are missing how things really work. Panels are for window dressing in my world. We have panels but only to pass compliance and I give all my work to my mate or where there's a conflict, to the last person who bought me lunch. It annoys me a bit when every two years we get a new legal counsel and the first thing she tries to do is wangle her old firm onto the panel.

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  • As someone who a few years ago suffered the interminable tedium of filling in online application forms for vacation placements and training contracts, only to have certain of them rejected by automated email, undoubtedly sent before any human had been given the chance to read the application (presumably on the basis that I didn't include some vomit-inducing 'buzz-word' somewhere for the scanning software to pick up on), this quote amused me greatly:

    "The growing popularity of on-line tendering systems also drew fire. “They are a complete waste of time,” said one senior BD specialist. “I’m convinced that the submissions are not downloaded, read and compared.” "

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  • “What is really annoying are clients that have absolutely no intention of changing their panel members, but just want to get a the odd stalking horse firm in to shake up the process. We’ve got a good detection system, but I’m not obviously not revealing it.” - and how did he manage to become a partner while possessing such "fantastic" grammar? It's a rather rare gift!

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