Thursday, September 08, 2005

On Lawyers as Commodities

In the September 2005 issue of Corporate Legal Times, a piece called "Bidding Wars" profiles GE's recent move to reduce the number of outside law firms it uses from 500 down to 94. The first cut was based on quality; this reduced the number of law firms to 200. Then they cut based on RFPs and references from other clients, leaving them with 142 firms. Then they cut down to 94 firms based on cost--they made the law firms place bids in an auction type process. The reaction from the law firms was a bit amusing:
"An auction is a great way to buy pencils," says John Marzulli, a partner at Shearman & Sterling, one of GE's preferred M&A counsel. "It doesn't seem to me to be the best way to select your counsel for a complex multibillion-dollar acquisition. We like being part of their network, but we didn't enjoy the selection process."
I bet not.

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