The impact of the Legal Services Act on procurement was the subject of debate at the recent Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply member conference – Redefining Legal Procurement. The event, supported by Riverview Law and AdviserPlus, brought together over 100 procurement professionals for a half day conference at the University of Birmingham on Monday 17th September. The delegates heard from a range of speakers, including: Professor Stephen Mayson, Director of the Legal Services Institute, who in highlighting the gross inefficiencies in the legal services market, urged procurement professional to re-think their use of expensive, ego-centric lawyers. “The structural and attitudinal inefficiencies in law firms are hindering clients getting what they want,” he said. “The Legal Services Act is driving the need to look at what lawyers do and we will see an increased use of non-lawyers where lawyers are not needed to do the work. One of the biggest outcomes from the Legal Services Act will be cheaper and higher-quality legal services.” Recognising that there has never been a better time to buy legal services, Sir Nigel Knowles, Joint CEO and Managing Partner, DLA Piper, said: “Since the recession, the boot is now on the foot of the client when it comes to buying legal services.” Sir Nigel went on to give a warning to firms who think their businesses will return to normal post-recession: “Things aren’t going to return to normal. This is the new normal and firms will have to adapt. Clients no longer want “execution-only” law firms. Instead, they’re looking for a genuine understanding of their business and industry.” Proxima’s Head of Professional and Financial Services, Richard James, by quoting one law firm managing partner’s reluctance to change, highlighted the ignorance still in existence about the Legal Services Act amongst the profession. Richard also explained why buying legal services is different and the difficulties faced in measuring its value. “Procurement professionals think there is a conflict of interest in valuing relationships and need to make a leap in viewing relationships as a value-driver,” he said. Anne-Marie Amatt, Senior Category Manager, E.ON UK, whose experiences inspired the creation of the event, gave an honest and insightful account of her three-year journey of taking E.ON from a business where legal was exempt from the procurement policy, to present day, where a collaborative approach ensues. Anne-Marie explained how the plethora of law firm profit legal tables had become a procurement benchmark at E.ON. She told the audience: “It’s hard to trust a supplier that boasts about its own profitability, so the tables provide a useful tool for our team meetings to play ‘guess the profit margin’.” The event concluded with a wide-ranging audience and question answer session covering topics including breaking down barriers between commercial, procurement and legal departments, public sector compliance and the UK’s pre-eminent position on the international legal stage.
Outsourced Legal Advisory Services
The following RFP (Request for Proposal) documents were made available to delegates at the conference and were developed for organisations wishing to purchase legal services in a more cost-effective manner than through the ‘traditional’ hourly rates model. 1. Guidance Notes 2. Legal services RFP template 3. Attachment 1 – Service line description 4. Attachment 2 – Existing case load 5. Schedule 1 – Pricing template