Vendor Management - Rate Submission / Review Guidelines
Normally one will have two documents virtually identical in content in order to implement a transparent process applied in a fair and consistent manner. The internal facing version is the Rate Review Guidelines. The external facing version is the Rate Submission Guidelines.
For some of my thoughts on rate review more generally please see my blog post “Secrets to Managing Outside Counsel Spend” here: https://opsinaboxlegal.com/blogs/the-ops-spot/secrets-to-managing-outside-counsel-spend.
The Ops in a Box, Legal Edition Rate Submission template covers these basics, In addition to those points a couple of other baseline considerations:
- Rates should be submitted sufficiently in advance of billing time to a matter for the legal ops team to schedule review into their work schedule. There is literally no other business on the face of the planet that routinely asks its clients to pay retroactive rate increases.
- For increase requests, the question that matter are “how much more are we being asked to pay tomorrow for the services we receive today?” and “In the submission documentation is the evidence of added value provided sufficiently compelling to justify the increase?” See the article above with respect to firm “standard rate cards.”
- For new timekeepers submitted on an ad-hoc basis, you should be approving rates consistent with the role and experience of current timekeepers for the supplier on file.
- As with any database the data quality is only as good as the inputs. For this reason, if your billing system does not allow you to edit a firm’s submission, then the firm must submit all the data points you request and submit them correctly. For example, if the firm submits a fixed fee under the relationship partner’s name, you need to reject it and have them submit an appropriate rate name.