The question.

Author:Hirsch, Stewart
Position:Ask the Authorities
 
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"A couple of my firm's lawyers are trying to get business from a large company and learned that procurement is handling the initial phases of the project. They think they can bypass procurement. How do I convince them that it's not a good idea?".

RESPONSES:

Jack D. Zencheck

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In my procurement role, I get involved early to help with the process. Our lawyers recognize that they are not trained on the fine art of competitive bidding and negotiation for legal services. Plus, transactions of this sort should be kept arm's length, having the specifications of the project handed of to procurement where the transaction can take place.

Of course, our in-house lawyers are brought at the end to level the proposals, receive oral presentations if necessary and make final determinations along with procurement. Getting procurement involved early takes this burden of the attorney. I know other procurement groups that work with legal services in their companies. If you want to convince your firm lawyers to work with in-house procurement, tell them that, at least in our organization, bypassing us often results in losing the opportunity.

Jack D. Zencheck, MS, CPM, APP, is the chief procurement officer at Yeshiva University in New York.

Martin K. Harlow

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When procurement is managing the source-selection process for a particular engagement, it is almost certain that the general counsel has empowered them to conduct the assessment. Defying the GC's request for procurement to lead a selection process would not be a prudent maneuver. If firms are tempted to circumvent procurement, they must not understand the value procurement can offer to both parties.

Procurement's focus is to oversee the selection process and to present objective, decision-grade data so that in-house attorneys can ultimately make the decision regarding which firm wins the business. Procurement provides in-house counsel the discipline, tools and process rigors to ensure that those decisions are made using objective data in head-to-head comparisons covering a comprehensive array of criteria including subject-matter expertise, experience with opposing counsel, cost, etc. Top-notch firms appreciate the transparent process procurement provides and want to compete for engagements on a fair and level playing field. Relying on personal relationships with in-house counsel, historical representations and non-matter-specific credentials tend to be subjective...

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