Crafty Counsel, together with partners LexisNexis and Obelisk, takes a deeper look at Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs).

  • What exactly are they?  
  • Why would you use them?
  • What will they do for you and your team?
  • How can using ALSPs help with driving innovation?
  • What about the budget?

All these questions, and more, are answered in a six-part video series in which Jamie Fraser, CEO and Founder of NineNineSix Solutions and General Counsel at Wedo, interviews industry experts to delve into the ALSP landscape.

In the second video in the series Jamie speaks to Dana Denis-Smith, Founder of Obelisk, about how using ALSPs can:

  1.  drive legal team innovation,
  2.  assist with contract lifecycle management,
  3.  process optimisation,
  4.  external spend analysis,
  5.  and give the in-house legal team access to improved data and dashboards.

Innovation and ALSPs

Dana says ALSPs brought creativity to the legal sector and fresh ideas on how the legal market can cut costs.

The legal market changed in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008 and contending with the global crisis required legal businesses to come up with more affordable and efficient ways of delivering services.

Dana says when it comes to innovation a lot has changed in the legal sector in the past 15 years.

Innovation is about much more than legal tech. It is about continuous development and improvement. 

Dana says two questions are important to ask when it comes to innovation:

  1. What is this meant to deliver?
  2. What are we here for?

She says the answer to these questions can sometimes be technology, and other times it relates to how people are deployed. Budget is a consideration when it comes to innovation and Dana says sometimes businesses have to consider whether they are spending too much on what they are aiming to achieve.

The ultimate aim is to support lawyers to achieve their goals and ALSPs can suggest fresh or innovative ideas on how the work can be done. 

How can ALSPs help with the “more for less” budget dilemma?

Dana says ALSPs can provide services that can help with budget cutting.

ALSPs have the benefit of thinking as businesses do. These legal service providers are themselves start-ups, scale-ups and sometimes more mature businesses. 

She says ALSPs will think about the wider business within which the legal function, which would be their client, operates. This approach is helpful because it recognises that there is an overarching business budget and the legal budget forms part of that. 

Once an ALSP understands how the business is structured then solutions can be designed around the challenges the business faces, which require legal services as part of the solution. 

An example of how ALSPs can help businesses save money is by aiding with contract management. Instead of the in-house team trawling through agreements, ALSPs can provide efficient ways of extracting key information from contracts.

ALSPs can help the legal department modernise

The in-house legal department is traditionally seen as a cost centre and lawyers are often viewed as putting a break on innovation rather than accelerating it. 

Dana says when Obelisk first entered the market there was a lot of debate about how lawyers could articulate their value and have a seat at the table. 

Dana says one of her clients looked at all the work the legal department was doing and started strategising about how the department could provide an additional income stream for the business. The General Counsel came up with a way to turn some of the legal services, the in-house team were providing, into an income-generating product. This was a clear way to illustrate the value of the in-house legal team. It also turned the team into an income generator as opposed to simply a cost base.

Dana says it is important that lawyers “sit in the same room” as the business, rather than in a different department that is seen to be separate. In this way, the legal team can illustrate how they can help support the business, accelerate innovation, and advocate for their function.

Crafty Counsel has created a guide to ALSPs, which is available at The guide provides a map of this new landscape. There are many providers offering different kinds of services, from contract repapering to flexible resourcing. 

We would love to hear your feedback. ​​We want to hear your thoughts about the ALSP Guide and your experiences with ALSPs.