Peer to Peer: ILTA's Quarterly Magazine

Issue link: http://epubs.iltanet.org/i/1415201

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11 I L T A N E T . O R G T hroughout the pandemic, general counsel's offices and the C-suite have continued to scrutinize legal spend, demanding more efficiency from their law firms and legal departments. In-house legal leadership seeks evidence of demonstrable ROI through legal operations initiatives like digitalization and automation. But the increased demands have not resulted in lasting solutions. In fact, many legal organizations are learning that highly touted techniques like workflow automation and stringent review of outside counsel invoices are yielding limited benefits and pose execution and adoption risks. T e c h n o l o g y - e n a b l e d services – and sometimes, services-enabled technology – are beginning to fill the gap. Focused technology solutions, when deployed with an alternative legal service provider (ALSP) whose users are technology adept, can meet the efficiency demands of the modern legal function. This trend can be observed in the ALSP market's growth during the past few years. According to a recent report, ALSPs are accepted increasingly by both law firms and legal departments. This study found that beyond just a cost-saving option, ALSPs are becoming partners that offer expertise, tech-enabled solutions, and new ways of doing business. Almost 80% of surveyed law firms, and more than 70% of corporate law departments, are using ALSPs. Those findings were echoed in another recent survey that queried legal department operations (LDO) managers. According to the 13th Annual Law Department Operations Survey by the Blickstein Group, one-third of respondents to the 2020 survey have seen an increase in spend on ALSPs over the past 12 months, while only 4% reported a decrease and 36% expected spend to increase in 2021. Most respondents also said they would appreciate law firms approaching them more frequently with new legal service delivery models. LDO managers also expressed high interest in technology and AI, with two- thirds of respondents believing law departments will be using AI for legal-type work in the next three years, an increase from 58% in 2019. The findings of these surveys illustrate both the promise and challenges faced by law departments, law firms, and ALSPs working with technology providers. On one hand, lawyers maintain a reputation for clinging to the old ways—in many cases, that reputation is well-earned. Lawyers often remain leery about working with non-lawyers and cutting-edge technology. The legal industry also remains one of artisanship that values internal knowledge, yet many lawyers still have difficulty extracting and utilizing that knowledge as data. This is where the new partnerships between ALSPs and technology providers represent powerful innovations to the traditional ways of doing business. The ALSP model, which itself presents a groundbreaking approach, is "Lawyers often remain leery about working with non-lawyers and cutting-edge technology."

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