4 Tips to Picking Your Next Legal Services Partner

Selecting a partner to provide legal services is an important decision with significant cost and risk implications for your organization.  With so many competing priorities,  it can be hard to give the process the time and attention it deserves.  Here are 4 things you should not let fall through the cracks:

#1:  Use a Thoughtful RFP Process

At Nimble, we've seen the value of thoughtful Request for Proposal (RFP) processes.  While it can be time consuming, you're far more likely to end up with a legal service provider(s) who can truly meet your expectations.  Work with your sourcing/purchasing team if you have one; they may have a standard process and templates that you can use to get started.

If you don't have a standard RFP process, consider purchasingNimble's "Guide to Selecting Legal Service Providers".  This toolkit will save you hours of work and improve the quality of your selection.  It provides detailed, step-by-step instructions on running an effective RFP process and includes pre-written RFP templates for large/small engagements as well as a scorecard template to help you objectively assess partner responses.  

#2: Include the Right Stakeholders

A legal service provider can impact a variety of people in your organization.  Before you start the selection process,  pause and make sure you are clear on who the real decision maker will be.  Then, give some thought to who will be impacted by the decision.  Stakeholders could include other members of the legal department,  the sourcing/purchasing department,  HR if you're considering labor/employment matters,  the risk team, and the finance team.  

Collaborating up front will ensure that your selection criteria is well thought out and that you have buy-in when the legal service provider(s) is finally selected.

#3 Be Transparent About Your Expectations 

Trust between your organization and your legal service provider is critical.  Setting clear expectations from the very beginning will help get the relationship off on the right foot.  As part of your RFP process, consider including your standard professional services agreement and billing guidelines as appendices.  Ask the potential partners to comment on how willing they are to accept your standard terms and what they'd ask to modify.  This will give you an idea how easy/difficult it will be for your two organizations together.  

If you don't have standard agreements,  Nimble offers pre-written templates that address all the major provisions and will save you hours of time compared to creating the documents from scratch.   Click here to view Legal Services Guides. 

#4 Commit to a True Partnership

Finally, once you've selected a legal services provider(s), put processes in place to make sure you form a true partnership.  Set a schedule for regular relationship check-ups.  The frequency for these meetings may be monthly to start and move to quarterly as things become well established.  Use these interactions to provide honest feedback about what is going well and what could be improved.  Consider defining metrics and reporting templates to structure the information that is shared at these these meetings.