In-housers have had it pretty much all their way of late, with strict pitch criteria meaning they can dictate terms and even get their law firms to do some menial work for their companies. It looks like that balance of power is not going unchallenged, however.
As we reveal today, one City firm – which has asked not to be identified – has decided not to compete for a place on Serco’s upcoming panel review simply because there will be too much work involved.
“We’re not going to pitch,” a partner at the firm in question says (see story). “The last effort was huge, we did hundreds of pages for our pitch and haven’t got much work out of it. We have too many other things to do.”
To be fair, in-housers have been making even greater demands of their panel firms in recent months. Among them, Sainsbury’s general counsel Nick Grant challenged the firms on his legal panel to compete against each other in a Dragons’ Den-style contest (see story) while a raft of others, including Bupa general counsel Paul Newton, have been using e-auctions in a bid to drive down their external legal spends (see story).
You can hardly blame them; with legal work becoming ever more commoditised general counsel need to find a way to distinguish between their firms. After a prolonged period of jumping through hoops, however, it looks like private practice could be about to fight back.