The Banyan Blog

Risk Sharing: What Does It Take?

September 19th, 2018 by |

  With law firm salaries on the rise, it is reasonable for clients to wonder if their interests are aligned with those of their law firms.  Risk sharing incentive structures can help insure that both client and firm are in lock-step when it comes to objectives and desired outcomes.  Sound complicated?  Creating risk sharing agreements More »

Leveraging Competition: Law Firms Expect It

August 2nd, 2018 by |

Are you feeling reticent about leveraging competition to shore-up the (likely long) list of firms with whom you work?  You shouldn’t be.  Here’s some great data to give you confidence that it is time to jump in the pool! The Landscape of Legal Service Providers is Changing The market for legal services continues to change More »

When Is the Last Time You Updated Your Panel?

May 9th, 2018 by |

When is the last time you refreshed your panel of firms?  Even for a single practice area?  If more than five years have elapsed, you have much to gain from a panel update.  Many things change over the course of five years—both at law firms and in your business.  This shares the results from a More »

Competition Drives Compelling Results

November 29th, 2017 by |

The GC role is not getting easier.  There is increased regulation, patent trolls, concerns over cyber-security, the impending enforcement of GDPR…not to mention the pressure on GCs to do “more with less” and control their costs.  Although demand for legal services is flat, revenue at firms increased by 4% in 2017 to date (Citibank 2017 More »

Why Matter-Level RFPs Matter

May 31st, 2017 by |

Recently back from the CLOC Institute, I have been simmering on how corporate legal departments are (and are not) leveraging RFPs. Most seem to tackle an RFP when it is time to create or refresh a panel. The process is looked upon with a fair amount of dread. Having had painful experiences with their panel reviews, it is More »

Client Service: Are Your Law Firms Delivering?

December 30th, 2016 by |

  As you reflect on the past year, it is worth taking a moment to consider how your law firms are delivering for you. Are they anticipating your needs? Investing in your relationship? Maintaining a high standard of client service? It is likely that some of your firms have become complacent. In this competitive legal More »

The Business of Law: Which Type of Client Are You?

August 31st, 2016 by |

  Over the past few weeks there have been a series of related headlines about the business of law that, at face value, tell a puzzling story. First, there was news that law firms have been raising their hourly rates. It was suggested this was tied to the fact law firms had significantly raised associate salaries More »

What Is It Worth To You: Value-Based Fees

June 30th, 2016 by |

The discussion continues about value-based pricing. D. Casey Flaherty (with the support of the ACC’s Legal Ops External Resources Interest Group) published a lengthy guide to getting more out of your relationships with outside counsel. Among many topics covered, value-based fees took a place on the stage. Although acknowledging the centrality of the billable hour, More »

Back to Basics: RFPs for Legal Services

May 31st, 2016 by |

Per BTI Consulting, 56% of legal departments ran at least one RFP of some type last year when hiring outside legal services. That is an encouraging sign for those of us who believe in the power of competition to enable better decisions about who to hire. It also means, however, close to half of legal departments More »

Fixed Fees: the Bees’ Knees?

April 29th, 2016 by |

Managing outside counsel is complicated. And, so are their bills. With complex itemizations and unclear formats, the bills trigger misunderstandings and lead to frustration. For many reasons, forecasting your annual budget is a challenge. You often wonder what you can do to help simplify the bills and drive predictability in your budget. Many in-house teams More »

Four Watch-Outs for Proposal Prep

March 31st, 2016 by |

Law firms often ask us what clients look for in RFP responses. Beyond competitive pricing and sound expertise and service, the specifics vary significantly from client-to-client. After pouring through proposal after proposal, it has come clear to us that there are some potholes to avoid. Here are four key watch-outs for law firms when preparing More »

Two Keys to a Respectful RFP

February 29th, 2016 by |

What would you want if you were on the receiving end of an RFP?  You would likely have a couple simple requests.  Experience shows that a respectful RFP, at its core, has two key elements:  honest communication and clear instructions. Honest Communication From pre-launch through firm-selection and final communication to the participants, honest communication is More »

What Your Law Firm’s Not Telling You

January 27th, 2016 by |

Your law firms are under pressure. Although it’s unlikely to come up in conversation, they are more appreciative of your business than ever. The truth is that they will bend over backward to keep your work. So what do law firms know that they aren’t necessarily telling you? Client Demand is Softening External legal spending has More »

Big Data: Too Much of A Good Thing?

November 30th, 2015 by |

There has been a lot of chatter of late about “big data” and measuring law firm rates, efficiency and value. In a marketplace as fragmented as the market for outside counsel, big data no doubt can help separate those who provide solid bang for the buck from those who over charge and under deliver. But More »

Buyer’s Market for Legal Services

October 29th, 2015 by |

  Read it and believe: it is a buyer’s market for legal services. There are many forces at work here, but two clear drivers are overcapacity and unbundling.   Appreciating the reality of each of these market forces will empower you to approach your engagements from a position of buying power. Overcapacity Overcapacity in the legal More »

Building Bridges: 3 Tips for a Smooth Legal RFP

September 30th, 2015 by |

Do you remember what it was like to be in private practice and on the receiving end of an RFP? Did it trigger feelings of hope or dread? Maybe you couldn’t wait to submit, or maybe you got a pit in your stomach and were thankful that the marketing team would handle the majority of More »

A Better Rate Card RFP

August 31st, 2015 by |

A lot of our clients run what is commonly referred to as a Rate Card RFP. The principle is simple: ask the law firms to list staff members and the hourly rates they will charge for work they may be asked to perform. You are not asking them to build a budget for a specific More »

Law Firms: Three Steps to a Better Proposal

July 30th, 2015 by |

Recently a national law firm asked us to visit with them to discuss how they could improve their RFP responses submitted through our platform. They wanted to discuss the finer points of proposal writing – i.e. beyond the obvious point of offering compelling pricing. We were happy to oblige. While much of what we shared was specific More »

Repeatable Legal Work: Two Steps to Savings

April 30th, 2015 by |

  If you have repeatable legal work, it often benefits you to run an RFP for a multi-year engagement. Do you process a large volume of visa applications? Do you manage a patent portfolio? Do you file a lot of trademark applications? Read on. There are a number of ways to instruct firms to complete their More »

RFP Results: Cheaper Isn’t Always Better

March 30th, 2015 by |

Recently I went out to dinner with a client who was in town. As we reviewed his use of BanyanRFP, I was struck by his characterization of one particular RFP he’d processed. “Our focus there was just to understand the market for that type of work,” he said. “And that was certainly accomplished.” The RFP was More »

Legal Cost Savings: Add It Up

December 30th, 2014 by |

As we reflect on 2014, we are happy to share a success story that illustrates when you are willing to ask your counsel for their best shot to do your work, the savings can add up fast. In five recent one-off processes run at BanyanRFP, it’s likely that over $1MM dollars would have been left on More »

BigLaw Continues to Profit

October 31st, 2014 by |

By almost anyone’s account, BigLaw is in trouble.  It is facing constrained demand as clients seek to keep work in-house.   There is disruption from a host of technologies that are automating or commoditizing work flows. The prospect of a “new normal” of low growth-rates looms for the foreseeable future.  There are literally tomes of More »

Upping the Value of Legal Services

September 18th, 2014 by |

  In Part I of this two-part blog we posted why pricing in the legal market is not necessarily tied to the value of legal services and touched upon how the legal marketplace is inefficient. In Part II, we now delve into what some top thinkers have to say about value when it comes to More »

The One About Value

August 29th, 2014 by |

Out on the interwebs there is much tweeting and linking about disruption, revolution, downfall and rebirth of the legal profession. One of the hot topics is about the value that lawyers deliver and how this relates to both the delivery and pricing of legal services.  In part one of this two-part blog, we claim that when More »

On Beyond Savings: Why a Competitive Counsel Selection Process Matters

July 31st, 2014 by |

Not everyone feels the need to run a competitive process to hire outside counsel . There are a laundry list of reasons folks will throw out, but there’s one I find especially difficult to swallow: “I already know what everything costs.”  When I find myself in front of a “I know what it costs” counselor, More »

The Heart of the Matter: On Law Firm Relationships & Loyalty

July 1st, 2014 by |

I recently read an open letter to GCs and outside counsel posted by a GC on the ACC Docket website (  The letter makes a number of great points about the plight of law firms in this highly competitive environment and how better business practices can help them prosper.  But it also highlights what it characterizes More »

Games People Play: Law Firm Budgets

May 30th, 2014 by |

When Budgets Submitted by Law Firms Look Too Good to be True As BanyanRFP has gained more traction, we’ve seen some budgets submitted by law firms that look too good to be true.  Although the examples we cite are much more the exception than the rule, it’s worth taking a closer look.  These behaviors are easy More »

Law Firm Plea: I Want You to Want Me

April 15th, 2014 by |

When Law Firms Offer Discounts So why would a law firm offer significant discounts to their rates to secure an engagement?  The answers are varied and are not necessarily predicted easily from engagement to engagement.  The good news:  there are several reasons law firms may be willing to offer significant discounts to win your work. More »

Law Firm Blended Rates – How to Avoid Getting Taken For A Ride

February 27th, 2014 by |

I recently tripped across a well-written article that addressed some of the tensions associated with blended rates ( .  Ultimately the author spent significant time dissecting whether they represent an alternative fee arrangement or an hourly rate.  He noted that distinction matters when measuring how much work law firms may claim to do under AFAs.  More »

Fixed Fees for Legal Engagements: The Basics

January 30th, 2014 by |

There has been a trend in the use of fixed fees for legal engagements.  Let’s take a moment to review the benefits and potential pitfalls of this fee methodology and when it is most commonly utilized. Cost Certainty:  Obviously fixed fees provide certainty of cost for an engagement and cap legal fees.  And this certainty More »

Common RFP for Legal Services Mistakes – Part II of II

December 18th, 2013 by |

This is a continuation of this blog post. OK…back with more tales from the front.  While sharing some holiday cheer, my friend (and business manager of a large law firm) and I shook our heads at a couple more of the common RFP mistakes that in-house counselors make.  He shared that “the ask” for fixed More »

Common RFP for Legal Services Mistakes – Part I of II

November 19th, 2013 by |

One of my friends is the business manager for a large law firm. When it comes to RFPs, he’s seen plenty of them.  And I’ve spent time over more than a few beverages swapping war stories with him. I’m often surprised by some of the things he tells me that large, multi-national companies do when processing their RFPs. With no More »

Get the Right People on the Bus and Save: Notes on Selecting a Law Firm

October 17th, 2013 by |

Jim Collins’ notion of getting the right people “on the bus” is a fitting way to start this post. Whether your “bus” is a litigation or a transaction or a regulatory matter, having the right people on the right parts of your matter will set you up for success.  When it comes to selecting a More »

A Short History of Legal Fees

September 12th, 2013 by |

From the billable hour to fixed fee engagements, the history of legal billing in the United States shows there’s nothing new under the sun.  It is a tour de force of the fee methods deployed by law firms to this very day, displaying the one constant from which no fee method conversation can escape – More »

Is Any Counsel/Client Relationship Safe?

August 8th, 2013 by |

These days there are a lot of in-house lawyers looking for potential alternatives to their current counsel relationships.  And, there are a lot of law firms wondering if their client relationships are safe.  More than ever, law firms expect competition, and companies are willing to make firms compete for their work.  How often and how More »

Overbilling – Won’t Lawyers Pad Their Hours Anyway?

July 10th, 2013 by |

I was recently in a meeting with several members of a legal department at a Fortune 500 company discussing RFPs for legal services.  During the meeting I was surprised by a comment. “That’s great that the firms would be incented to offer discounts, but won’t they all just stuff the time sheet with more hours More »

Structuring an RFP For Legal Services – The Basics

June 20th, 2013 by |

In-house counsel and others who procure legal services for corporations are under incredible pressures to contain costs.  RFP’s can be a terrific way to drive better pricing from law firms either matter to matter or for longer term engagements.  Here are four basic principles that will enhance the quality of information you receive from law More »

Legal Fees 101 – Review Chart

May 21st, 2013 by |

The following chart summarizes basic pros and cons and common use scenarios of fee types frequently utilized by law firms.  Although not an end-all-to-be-all guide, it should serve as a useful summary.  The chart is presented from the client’s point-of-view.  As you know, the possibilities for creative thinking on fee arrangements are extensive.  Two or More »

The Finite Inventory of Time: How Time Impacts Fee Methods

April 10th, 2013 by |

My daughter is 11. When I tell her something she already knows, she sometimes calls me “Captain Obvious”. But I think this message bears repeating. Much is written about how law firms structure and price fees. The rise of alternative fee methods, the desire of clients to purchase results and trends (normally upwards) in hourly More »