The May issue of Corporate Counsel magazine reports in Hello, Good Buy that “a dozen companies confirm that they’ve directed their procurement departments… to review legal spending decisions.” 

The article reviews the pros and cons of purchasing experts helping to select outside counsel. If the trend continues, it likely will have a positive influence on law firm technology. My sense is that sourcing specialists will weigh many factors, including how service providers do their work. I can imagine a company sending a supply chain expert to a law firm to assess whether the lawyers are working efficiently and effectively. Some might protest this is too hard to measure. Perhaps. Contrast assessing this to evaluating results, relationships, and expertise and decide which is easier to evaluate. (For example, if two litigators are equally skilled in developing legal arguments, shouldn’t the rational GC – or purchasing agent – select the one who really knows how to use discovery databases effectively?)

I have previously suggested (here and here) that change in the legal market will require external forces such as the CFO stepping in. Procurement chiefs may be just as effective as stirring things up. From a large law firm CIO’s perspective, this shaking up would likely result in partners dropping some of their resistance to new technology and new ways of working.