The time has never been better for legal firms to start look at winning public sector work. In conversations we have had with legal firms over the past several years, there is a strong perception that the corporate law firms win everything. This is a fundamental misread of the situation on the ground. To demonstrate that this perception is inaccurate for all the major cities, let alone the counties without a major city, examine the data and then consider what these firms are doing right.
In the second half of 2016, the following law firms won law tenders for Dublin City Council:
- Denis O’Driscoll (Q3 511k & Q4 701k))
- Thomas Meehan (Q3 115k)
- Paul Beausang (Q4 64k)
- Owen O’Sullivan (Q4 23 k)
- Eamonn Keane (Q4 21k)
- Beauchamps (Q3 35k & Q4 65k)
The table above shows that only one corporate firm in a recent 6 month period won work with the country’s largest local authority. This data is widely available and is published to varying degrees by each local authority. We excluded house/site transactions from the table above.
So what is it that these firms are doing well?
- They have a plan: Many of these firms win regularly and across the public sector system. They are known by the decision makers in their local authority and are trusted by them to do an effective, competent job at rates the “glass box” firms cannot match.
- They are bidding where they know they can win: They often have particular strengths and are aware of the needs of their locale and their local authority clients. They understand the people working in the local authority in question and the specific challenges they face. They can meet them as part of a planned approach under market engagement and share relevant insights and knowledge with them.
- They have specialisms: Firms like O’Driscolls who are very small and based in West Cork are winning large contracts with Dublin City Council. They are deep specialists in construction law and have tailored their firms services to fit the public sector market.
One can see from the fees collected above that the potential fees available are quite significant. Data is only published if it goes over €20,000 on the same purchase order in a given quarter so firms could win on different assignments under this threshold and have very healthy accounts with councils over a year.
Tools like Tenderscout help legal firms to identify opportunities based on current and historic opportunities and then build an intelligent pipeline that supports them as they work towards a first (or larger) win on a particular account. Small firms that are strategically astute are winning and winning large contracts with public bodies. They will continue to do so in isolation if other firms do not up their game and work to compete with them more vigorously.
For firms that want to get there faster, there are few inside tracks that are as efficient as Tenderscout to start building competitive advantage and a beachhead into public contracts.