Based on comments received and related blog posts I thought I would clarify my Convergence post. References to “convergence” can touch on two separate issues:

  1. Limiting the number of ‘panel’ firms will you entertain bids from?
  2. Limiting the number of firms you want to manage?

When it comes to #2, I agree that a smaller group of providers is easier and more cost effective to manage. This is especially the case when using the billable hour. In-house counsel who spend their time pouring over time entries making sure they are getting ‘value’ do better with a smaller universe of timekeepers. They get familiar and comfortable with the style and method of the timekeepers involved. So they become more efficient and effective at managing the outside counsel involved. (Of course this begs the question: Why spend your time reviewing time entries?)

When it comes to #1, and this is where my original post comes from, I think in-house counsel should not be converging in a buyers’ market. The RFPs I have seen lately are not about adding competent providers to the list – they are about narrowing the list of firms. These RFPs state something to the effect of, “We are reaching out to the firms we know and trust to respond to this RFP. In this process will we cut the number of panel firms down to …”

First off they are spending significant resources going through the RFP process. Second, the result is fewer firms “they know and trust” bidding for their work.


I would suggest in-house counsel let ALL the acceptable firms bid for your work. In a buyers’ market, price and value will narrow the number of winners down for you (meeting #2 above) and this will all be done … for free.