26 May The return of the centralised bid function to law

26 May 2021

The centralised bid function has returned to law, just at the right time and is now working alongside pursuits. During COVID-19 bidding activities across law, engineering and accounting soared and firms continued to hire specialist bid experts right across Australia.

While engineering and Big-4 teams have never lost bids as a core function, law firms have started bringing back whole teams.

In 2018, we saw the growth of pursuits (a sophisticated and strategic approach to winning work) in some law firms. While this occurred at Manager-level, we are now seeing firms hire bid professionals at all levels to support BD experts.


  • The sheer volume of bidding for work has grown due to increased opportunities, procurement, compliance and risk processes.
  • Increased competition from Big-4, consulting and specialist boutique firms.
  • Manager-level roles have become more strategic, resulting in leaner BD teams, higher Partner expectations, true pipeline management and more bid opportunities.
  • Firms are evolving and client expectations are increasing; firms now have a broader offering including project management, product development, flexible resourcing, consulting services and innovation.
  • Partner savviness has also led to the increase in bidding; as they continue to pursue work there will be a growing need for tailored, relevant and winning bids.

What do these teams look like?

  • Truly centralised bid teams include 2-15 bid experts across Australia who coordinate, draft and manage all types of bids. In engineering, regional bid teams can be upwards of 20 people.
  • The BD expert usually manages pursuits however some firms have centralised pursuit experts.
  • Engineering and Big-4 firms usually have the largest bid teams where individuals are typically aligned to a specific sector and sit right across Australia and NZ. In law firms most bid teams sit on the East Coast.
  • Salary levels range from $65,000 to $220,000. At the top end are extremely experienced professionals who either manage a team or are in standalone specialist roles.

What does this mean for the future?

  • Increased demand for high calibre bid and pursuit experts who can project manage, coordinate, coach and write compelling content.
  • Storytelling and ‘writing to influence’ are key skills that firms want in their teams.
  • Furthering best practice and strong training in winning work (e.g. Shipley) are important.
  • Growth of external consultants specialised in managing large, complex and ‘must-win’ bids.

Next steps

Are you a bid or pursuit expert looking for to grow your career in the law? Contact a member of the Dalton Handley team for a confidential discussion and expert advice. Email: australia@daltonhandley.com Phone: +61 2 8042 7970.