Crafty Counsel, together with partners LexisNexis and Obelisk Support, 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 fifth video in the series, Jamie speaks to Dana Denis-Smith, Founder of Obelisk Support, and to Natalie Salunke, General Counsel at Zilch about what an ALSP can do for the General Counsel and for the in-house legal team.

What added benefits can an ALSP bring to an in-house legal team?

Natalie says many ALSPs are based on technology platforms. They have creative ways of solving problems that are more efficient and cost-effective than the traditional models of delivery.

She says the agile mentality that ALSPs embrace resonates with how she delivers legal services to the companies she has worked for. It also resonates with the way in which those companies deliver services to their customers. ALSPs hire employees with diverse skills, skills that go beyond technical legal skills. They are client focused and look for the best solutions for a particular client, as opposed to delivering a generic service that has been delivered in the same way to multiple clients before.

For Natalie, working with an ALSP is an opportunity for the service to really get to know the business, to become partners and grow together.

Investing in a relationship with an ALSP could serve the legal team in the long run. The ALSP could evolve its services to match the needs of the in-house team as it scales.

How are ALSPs an alternative to what law firms provide?

Dana says that because many ALSPs are start-ups or new entrants into the legal market they offer a different perspective to the traditional law firm model.

She says ALSPs offer a ground-up view rather than a top-down view. The top-down view is the hallmark of the partnership model of law firms, with the idea that partners at the firm know best.

She says many ALSPs were born out of a sense of disillusionment with the way traditional firms were structured and providing services. She says many were looking for answers to questions such as:

  1. Why do lawyers exist?
  2. Why does the billable hour exist?
  3. What are alternative ways of offering legal services?

For Dana, creating Obelisk Support was also born out of a sense of personal purpose to champion equality for women in the workplace and to provide equal opportunities for women in law. Questions around diversity and inclusion and who gets to do the legal work and gets to be in the room are important to her and were the driving force for starting her own legal service provider.

Dana says that Obelisk Support walks the walk and doesn’t merely talk about diversity and inclusion but shows how it is done. Having a workforce that is representative of the community at large and of the in-house legal teams helps the ALSP align with the customer and is vital for its ultimate success. With a diverse workforce comes diversity of thought and helps ALSPs solve problems in creative and innovative ways.

ALSPs offer a vision of the future

The traditional law firm model has a place and works best for some teams and some problems, but the fast-moving, agile mode of service delivery offered by ALSPs is the way forward for many in-house legal teams, according to Natalie.  

ALSPs are also allowing “cognitive diversity” and alternative career options for lawyers says Natalie. ALSPs and the Big Four are solving problems the legal industry failed to solve for years. These “groundbreaking” ALSPs have taken the legal profession forward in many ways.

ALSPs as business partners and strategic advisors

What unites many ALSPs and the General Counsel community is a sentiment that some lawyers in private practice look down on lawyers who don’t work in certain elite law firms, says Dana.

The idea of being put in an “outside bucket” creates a sense of trust between all those who don’t fit in the traditional mould of what it means to be a lawyer and what it means to offer a legal service.

Their joint understanding of the value in-house lawyers offers the business strengthens the relationship between many in-house lawyers and ALSPs. ALSPs can be trusted business partners to in-house legal teams and the trust is built on excellent service delivery.

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 out there 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.