Across the Pond: How are Law Departments Leveraging Procurement Staff?

Procurement organizations are increasingly getting involved in helping law departments (of course the definition of "help" can vary significantly depending on whom you ask). But how is procurement getting involved exactly? Two paragraphs in a survey report offer some insights into how European law departments use procurement personnel. The data comes from PLCLaw Dept. Quart., Vol. 3, Jan.-March 2007 at page 23. Of the respondents to the magazine's 2006 survey, 18.3 percent of the law departments involved procurement staff, up from 12.9 percent in the 2005 survey. That is a significant increase in a year (See my post of March 1, 2008: procurement with 17 references.)

Of the law departments that turned to procurement for assistance, half of them used the sourcing specialists "to benchmark pitches". Perhaps that means they used them to extract from the firms' responses the answers to questions and then to rank those answers. A third of the procurement users had them draw up the Request for Proposal. As to the other two uses, the magazine says that 16.7 percent of the law departments turned to procurement for "general advice" or "fee negotiations".

Later, at page 25, the article adds that "11% of those who currently do not involve procurement staff intend to involve them in the near future". On this side of the Atlantic, there's no question that procurement is getting more involved in legal sourcing as well. But the extent of the penetration will no doubt depend on the overall sophistication of each organization and the need for legal cost reduction.

Rees Morrison

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