The Top Three Priorities for Your Law Firm’s
Procurement Function in 2020


It is no secret that law firms today face an increasingly competitive environment. Between accelerating pressure from alternative legal service providers and startup firms, new regulatory expectations with dire penalties, economic forecasts predicting rough seas ahead and clients demanding ever-greater services (at ever-lower costs) from their legal advisors, firms must find ways to eke out every last drop of value from their staff.

Enter the procurement function. While many law firms have recognized procurement’s ability to contain costs, its potential to foster other critical firm strategies has often remained invisible. Yet procurement stands ready to play an essential role in law firms’ ability to streamline vendor relationships and weather economic turbulence, both of which set firms up to compete more effectively for precious business.

Based on discussions with participants at HBR’s 2019 Law Firm Procurement Roundtable, with law firm leaders and with others in the broader legal market, HBR has identified three strategic priorities for law firm procurement functions to focus on in 2020 and beyond:

  • Improving vendor governance
  • Preparing for a recession or economic downturn
  • Defining and promoting the procurement function’s value

By focusing planning efforts on these three areas, procurement can help law firms protect against risks, implement strategies to minimize impact from a potential downturn and rise to the level of a strategic business partner with internal stakeholders—which, together, can ensure a virtuous cycle of continued firm-wide support for procurement initiatives.