Crafty Counsel together with partners LexisNexis and Obelisk take 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 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 first video in the series Jamie speaks to Emma Dickin, Head of Practice Area Group In-House Strategy at LexisNexis, about the different services ALSPs offer and how in-house lawyers might work with them.
Jamie and Emma discuss the simplest definition of ALSPs Jamie Fraser.
“In some ways the simplest definition is they’re just another service provider that offers the in-house team a way of accessing legal services that’s not a traditional law firm,” Jamie says.
There are a variety of ALSPs in the marketplace and Emma sorts them in three different groups:
1) The first group is the independent ALSPs. These are the service providers most people will think of when they think of an ALSP. An example is Obelisk.
2) The second group consists of the big four accountancy firms. These firms changed their model to offer legal services support alongside their traditional offerings of accountancy, tax, auditing, consultancy.
3) The third group consists of subsidiaries of large law firms. These have mainly been set up in response to the growth of the other two groups. Examples of these are Konexo (Eversheds Sutherland), Peerpoint (by Allen & Overy), Vario (Pinsent Masons).
Some ALSPs offer a broad range of services, while others are more niche in their offering.
Emma says there is a common theme that runs through all of them “they try to use a combination of people, processes, legal technology, innovation and data” to find creative ways of satisfying the legal service needs of in-house legal teams.
There are many different services. ALSPs are set-up to take on “highly repetitive, low value, low risk type tasks off the desks of the lawyers to allow them to focus on higher value work” explains Emma.
However, because of the broad skills set within an ALSP they help in house teams in some of the following ways:
- support in rolling out a new legal tech innovation,
- strategic support, for example from a project management perspective,
- flexible resourcing, so on demand lawyers and paralegals,
- due diligence,
- contract management and
- legal operations support.
Does innovation extend to billing? What about the billable hour?
Emma explains that there are different approaches to billing when it comes to using the services of ALSPs. These include:
1) A pay as you go approach or an hourly rate approach.
This would be when teams need a short-term resource, for example cover a staffing problem or to work on a project.
2) A fixed price model, which allows teams to have clarity and transparency around what is being paid for and how long it will take. The benefit of the fixed price model is that it helps with budgeting and alleviates concerns around a rising bill as the project progresses.
Talk of process improvement, new technology use of data, project management. Shouldn’t law firms be doing this?
Emma says that while some law firms are starting to offer the kinds of services ALSPs do, the issue is that most of them are “not traditionally set up in the way that ALSPs are to provide that end-to-end support service and that more innovative approach to legal services”.
Traditionally law firms are there “to advise on law for particular matters or issues” Emma explains.
Many are “waking up to the fact that there are other ways of doing things”.
There subsidiaries of big law firms, the big four providing services as well as independent ALSPs are potentially taking clients away from law firms.
Crafty Counsel has created a guide to ALSPs, which is available at alspguide.com. The guide provides a map to 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 what you think about the ALSP Guide and about your experiences with ALSPs.