The private and public sectors in the UK adopt a formal procurement process for legal services. This procurement process ensures legal services are procured in a fair, competitive and transparent manner.
Boutique, mid-tier and top-tier firms across the UK write bids and tenders to the government and private sector to become appointed to key panels and secure legal sector work.
Our strategies to help you win your next legal services bid
Read between the lines and understand the client
It is important to read between the lines of any ITT and to gain an understanding of the clients needs. You need to look at the media, annual reports and other publicly available information to understand what legal challenges the relevant department or client is facing. Once you have done this, you can then tailor your proposal to directly address these challenges and showcase your most relevant experience and expertise. Clients want to have confidence you have experience dealing with similar cases and challenges to those they are facing.
Write concisely and provide a clear response – keep it simple
Your bid needs to be clear, concise and easy to read. There is no need to use jargon or highly technical words and a lot of the time, the procurement team are not legally trained, or at least, not familiar with each specific area of law. Keep the structure of your writing simple and easy to interpret with lots of headings, sub-headings and bullet points. Here at Tsaks Consulting, we generally recommend using the structure of the question provided in the ITT as a framework for any heading and sub headings. This ensures you respond to the question and it makes it easier for the evaluators to mark the response.
Show how your team will deliver real value for money
Fees and hourly rate pricing are one thing, however, it’s also important to show the potential client that you will deliver real value for money. You should think about value for money in terms of innovation and value-added services – for example, use of your templates, legal white papers and free ad-hoc telephone advice. You also need to be transparent in your fees and provide a breakdown of your costs, the costs of any supplementary services, as well as a breakdown on how you would price matters to incentivise early resolution.
Detail your relevant experience and expertise
This takes time. You need to avoid the temptation of including general experience which you have on file. Instead, you need to include experience that is highly relevant to the services they are asking for and challenges they face. Go into detail by writing case studies that showcase the work you have provided similar clients. Talk about how you specialise in a particular area of law. Finally, demonstrate that you are a specialist in the specific areas of law you are bidding for and that you have the track record to match.
Tailor the skills, qualifications and expertise of your personnel
Given the nature of professional services, the skillset and experience of your personnel is critical. When you are putting together the Bios or CVs of your personnel for the bid, you need to ensure they are tailored to the opportunity. For example, if it is a public sector bid, put forward public sector experience as well as highly relevant private sector experience.
Cover compliance, regulation and risk management
It may not be the first point that comes to mind, however, risk management and compliance are critical in any bid or tender – particularly since you are often looking to get appointed to provide critical legal services to a public sector organisation. You need to give the reader confidence that you have financial management, conflict and other processes in place to ensure a seamless provision of services.
Present your bid professionally
Most procurement teams are smart enough to look beyond ultra-fancy graphics. However, your bid needs to be concise, clear and professionally presented. Formatting, font colour and graphics need to be themed and consistent throughout the document. You need to ensure headings and numbering are consistent and you should proof read your proposal carefully to eliminate any errors.
How we can help with your next bid
With experience writing bids and tenders for global, national and boutique law firms such as Baker & McKenzie, Ashurst, Norton Rose, our team of expert writes will help you:
1. Write your bid: We can help you write your bid from start to finish. We will work with relevant key partners, senior associates, and your HR or other departments to gather the relevant information. We will review your previous bids and gather relevant case studies.
We will work with you to review and finalise the bid and ensure submission prior to the submission deadline.
2. Review your bid: This works well when you have an in-hose marketing team or even secretary putting your bid together. At first draft stage, we will review your bid and draft responses and provide detailed instructions on how you can improve it. This will cover response structure, case study structure and writing style. This essentially transfers our knowledge to you
3. Development of a bid library: As a law firm, you may be tendering for new panel appointments on a weekly or monthly basis. It’s a good idea to organise a comprehensive bid library in order to more efficiently respond to opportunities as they arise. We can put together a bid library as part of the bid preparation process for future use. We are also at the forefront of AI and enjoy helping our clients put bids and tenders together (or at least a good first draft) more efficiently using AI. We can work constructively with you to help you develop and deploy the best AI solution for your firm to bid for contracts across the UK and internationally.
Why legal services tenders are critical to law firm growth
Tenders, RFPs and RFIs for legal services are opportunities for law firms and legal professionals to write and submit proposals detailing their capabilities for providing legal services. They are critical in the process for ensuring that private and public entities engage the with most skilled and experienced law firms at the minimum cost. A key advantage of the tendering process is that they are transparent, and therefore, law firms of all shapes and sizes can secure work and be certain that the outcome is fair and transparent. Innovation and value-added services are often key components of legal tenders and provide an opportunity for law firms to set their service apart from other firms.
Contracts for the provision of legal services come in all shapes and sizes. At Tsaks Consulting, we generally group them into three categories:
- Public Sector Tenders: These are contract opportunities which are released by public authorities such as federal government departments and local councils. For example, there may be a tender released by HM Revenue and Customs for the provision of tax law services.
- Private sector tenders: These tenders are usually issued by businesses and corporations. Depending on the basis, they span across a broad range of practice areas such as employment law, corporate, insurance and tax law.
- Panels and Framework Agreements: This is when a public or private sector organisation puts out a contract or RFP for the provision of legal services for a period of time. For example, it may be a three-year panel with a one or two year option. Once you are appointed to the panel, you are pre-qualified to provide services to the client.
The difference between public and private sector legal tenders
The two main categories of legal service tenders in the UK are public and private sector legal tenders. Although somewhat similar, there are some distinct differences particularly with respect to the formality of the procurement process. Public sector tenders have stricter regulations and are often a lot more formal. The process needs to abide by Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and they often ask questions related to the environment and modern slavery. This differs from private sector tenders which are often shorter and focus mainly on the expertise and experience of the law firm.
Notices for legal tenders
When tender and bid opportunities arise there is a formal notification process which forms part of the procurement process. Tender notices provide detailed information on the tender including relevant areas of law, duration of the contract, terms and condition and the submission deadline. Our team notifies our existing legal clients of new tender opportunities as they arise. They can also be found from sources such as the European Union (OJEU), Contracts Finder and Tenders Electronic Daily (TED).
Pre-Qualification Questionnaires (PQQs) and Selection Questionnaires (SQs) for legal sector tenders
There is often a two stages process for law firms when responding to a request for proposal. The first stage often comprises of a PQQ or SQ. These are initial screen questionnaires that area designed to ensure the law firm is a respected, stable business with the right qualifications, personnel and experience as well as technical capacity. They also ensure your firm has the ability to comply with mandatory requirements of a bid. The process is usually short and simple – with detailed case studies and CVs to be provided at the second stage.
Invitation to Tender (ITT)
The ITT is the second stage of the process and is much more detailed. You will need to respond to specific requirements and request for information. Supporting documentation, Bios and case studies are generally required as well as a comprehensive response to the questions in the ITT.