Legal RFPs: Why Law Firms are No Fans?

Jolie Lin

Request for Proposals (RFPs) in the legal industry are a necessary yet often dreaded part of the business. While they are intended to streamline the process of selecting legal services, they often end up being cumbersome, time-consuming, and frequently unrewarding for law firms. This dissatisfaction among law firms towards RFPs is not without reason.

The Drawbacks of Legal RFPs

1. Time-Consuming and Costly Process:

The RFP process in the legal field is notoriously long and intricate. It requires significant time and resources, which translates into costs for the law firms. Preparing detailed proposals, tailoring them to meet the specific requirements of each potential client, and participating in multiple rounds of submissions can be extremely resource intensive.

2. Involvement of Multiple Stakeholders

Multiple people from the law firm are often involved in the RFP process. This includes partners, associates, and administrative staff, all of whom must coordinate their efforts. The collaboration required among various levels within the firm adds complexity and can slow down the process.

3. Lack of Feedback and Uncertainty

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect for law firms is the lack of communication following an RFP submission. Many firms never hear back from potential clients, and if they do, they are seldom provided with a reason for non-selection. This lack of feedback hinders the ability of firms to improve future proposals and can be demotivating.

Factors Influencing the Assignment of Legal Work

Despite the structured nature of RFPs, the decision to assign legal work often hinges on more subjective factors:

- Existing Relationships: The pre-existing relationship between the law firm and the company or influential executives is a significant factor.

- Trust: The level of trust that has been established over time plays a crucial role.

- Previous Experience with the Client: Past interactions and the history of work done for the client, regardless of the outcome, often influence decisions.

- Reputation: The reputation of individual lawyers or partners within the firm can be a deciding factor.

The Client Perspective

Clients, on their part, are not huge fans of the RFP process either. However, they often find themselves without a better alternative. While various companies claim to have improved the process, the fundamental issues remain. Clients continue to use RFPs as a means to an end, albeit a cumbersome one.

The Need for Innovation

The current state of legal RFPs clearly indicates a need for innovation. The process needs to be reimagined from the ground up to make it more efficient, responsive, and beneficial for both law firms and clients. This could involve leveraging technology to streamline the process, developing better communication channels for feedback, and perhaps rethinking the criteria on which law firms are evaluated.


In conclusion, while RFPs are a staple in the legal industry, their current format leaves much to be desired. Both law firms and clients face challenges with this system, pointing to a critical need for innovative solutions that can make legal RFPs more efficient, transparent, and fair. Only then can we expect a more positive reception from those on both sides of the proposal.