Getting to know procurement.

Author:Hodges, Silvia
Position:About This Issue

I had just finished the analysis of my study on the influence of procurement on the purchasing of legal services. One of the most interesting findings was that procurement--or supply management, as it is often referred to in corporations today--also buy complex/high value legal services. Excited about this insight, I shared it with some lawyer friends of mine. I should have known better. This insight was immediately challenged as "impossible" and "ridiculous." "They buy widgets; there's no way they buy complex M&A work," I was told. "Procurement?" someone said. "Probably got their brains for a discount."

I don't know what your experience is, but that is not my impression after having spoken with more than two dozen procurement professionals and having collaborated with the Institute of Supply Management and the American Purchasing Society. Sophisticated procurement people have a very good understanding of what they buy and how they add value. A good number of them even have JD degrees or are MBAs who have closely collaborated with their organization's legal department and have extensive experience with buying professional services (so no widgets). A pioneer among them is Lynn Krauss. Read the reprint of her 1999 article "I Bought The Law" in this issue. It still rings true today.

Embracing change is not easy. In this issue, the...

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