Law firm proposals are becoming an increasingly important means of business development in today’s competitive world. A “Request for Proposal” (RFP) is the triggering event, which could be issued by a municipality, corporate general counsel, or an insurance carrier.
Legal Expert Connections is available to help you write, design and prepare a strong law firm proposal in response to an RFP.
While every law firm proposal will be different, there are several central sections that will appear in most responses to an RFP. Basic sections include but are not limited to:
Introduction to the Firm. Geographic coverage, year founded, number of attorneys, and number of offices are all key facts that a law firm will want to include in its firm overview. Distinctive features related to diversity, awards, and other firm accomplishments are also important.
Practice Area Details. In preparing a law firm proposal, attorneys will want to provide a substantive description of experience by practice area. Including supporting detail in terms of corresponding representative cases will help to underscore your depth of expertise.
About the Attorneys. A detailed bio on key partners and associates is an essential part of your law firm proposal. Highlight credentials, like Martindale ratings or board certifications. Include attorney photos as an important part of the get-acquainted process.
References. A good reference is golden. Be prepared to provide three to four references, ideally of the type applicable to the law firm proposal or RFP (i.e., municipal references for an RFP issued by a local city).
Technological Expertise. Data privacy and security, as well as 24/7 communications, all mean that the law firms with a robust in-house technical ability have the best chance of submitting a winning law firm proposal.
Electronic Billing Capabilities. Many sophisticated purchasers of legal services (particularly in the insurance defense area) now employ third party auditors to review law firm bills. Law firms are advised to demonstrate their capability to provide invoices consistent with any format specified in the client’s litigation guidelines.
Rates and Alternative Billing Arrangements. If possible, try to get a sense of the price range that is consistent with the client’s budget. In the event of municipal RFPs, you might even get access to historical RFP responses as a point of reference.
Representative Cases. A list of reported cases and/or a descriptive list of characterized cases (i.e., where you do not disclose the client) will help to reinforce your experience.
Cautions. Be sure your proposal conforms to attorney advertising guidelines within your state. Write engaging copy that will make your law firm stand out from the competition.
Insights from a Survey on Law Firm Proposals
Key findings about law firm proposals and RFPs, taken from a 2012 LexisNexis survey on legal marketing and business development practices, are highlighted below:
- Overall, firms are responding to an average of 5 to 16 proposals each month. As expected, larger law firms are engaged in a higher volume of RFP activities than their counterparts in smaller firms. Although 68 percent of firms are handling an average of 10 or fewer RFPs every month, it’s a different story at the high end. A small segment–15 percent of respondents–are juggling more than 21 activities each month, which equates to a run rate greater than 250 proposals a year.
- Almost half (42 percent of respondents) saw an increase in RFP activity at their firms over the past 12 months. An identical 42 percent believe the volume of RFP activity has stayed the same.
- Responding to RFPs, pitches and proposals puts a strain on practice resources. While some 46 percent of RFP responses can be handled with fewer than 20 hours of effort, that total also means the majority of work takes even more time. The survey selections topped out at 40+ hours per RFP response, a category that still garnered 7 percent of the replies.
- Based on all the replies, the average hours-per-proposal figure increased with firm size … ranging from 19.6 to 25 hours. Interestingly, this question also earned a relatively high “don’t know” response rate of 22.6 percent. Although the survey audience could address volume and growth rate questions, they were unaware of the amount of effort required from the firm to handle that workflow.
- By combining average RFP volumes and average hours-per-proposal, it’s possible to assess the growing impact of these kinds of activities on legal firms. For smaller sized firms, the lower proposal count and hours required per response still adds up. On a yearly basis, it totals 1,175 hours of effort which is enough to fund more than half of a full-time equivalent (FTE) employee. For the largest firms, the average yearly total came to 4,800 hours, representing 2.3 FTEs.
Legal Marketing Professionals Available to Help with Your Law Firm Proposal