Another Site Offers Group Buying for Small Firms

In a post here in May, I wrote about GroupESQ, a site that aims to deliver group-buying power to lawyers, even in small firms. Now, another site, Prime Advantage Legal, is offering a similar service for small- and mid-sized law firms, but on a broader scale and with more consistent discounts.

You might recall that GroupESQ offers its deals on a contingency. Each deal requires a minimum number of buyers in order to become effective. If you see a deal you like, you submit a purchase order. If the minimum number of buyers is reached, you get the deal.

Prime Advantage is more straightforward. It has negotiated group-purchasing discounts with a number of vendors. Those discounts apply across a range of products. As soon as you become a member of Prime Advantage, you become entitled to the discount.

These vendors include CDW, Dell Computers, Staples, OfficeMax, car rental companies, hotel chains and other companies.

Although Prime Advantage is new to the legal industry, it has been in this business for 13 years. It started out getting bulk discounts for industrial manufacturing companies, then moved on to other industries. It currently has 700 companies as members of its group-buying program.

So far, it does not offer discounts on any products specific to lawyers. It hopes to be able to offer discounts on CLE programs, liability insurance, litigation-support services and the like.

The most attractive feature of Prime Advantage is the cost of membership: Zero. It charges companies in other industries a fee to become a member of its group-buying program. But because it is largely unknown within the legal industry, it is offering membership for free.

In a telephone interview, Mike McDonald, the company’s vice president for new business relationships, told me that it will eventually charge law firms a membership fee. However, firms that join before then will be grandfathered and never have to pay the fee, he said.

So the bottom line is this: Here is a program that offers discounts on computers, office supplies, car rentals and other essential products. There is no cost to join. There is no hitch — no minimum buying requirements or the like.

If the price is right, based on the discounts they offer, you save some money. If you can get a better price elsewhere, you’ve lost nothing by joining. Given this, Prime Advantage Legal seems worth a try.