The supply chain for legal services has become a lot more nuanced and sophisticated than it was hitherto. In addition to in-house and law firm resourcing, there is technology, law companies, near and off-shoring, flexible staffing solutions, and managed legal services. Managed legal services are an increasing area of focus for consumers and are starting to make significant inroads into the market. But what are they?
Managed legal services are project-based mandates that are passed along by in-house departments to law companies (also known as Alternative Legal Services Providers). Because these are project-based mandates, a managed legal service is defined in terms of their deliverables. Whether it is for a business as usual need, or a more ad hoc business initiative, managed legal services are meant to support business objectives that are not best delivered by traditional “employed” in-house lawyers. It may be that an in-house lawyer is not an expert in that specific jurisdiction, especially in cross-border cases. In these situations, the in-house lawyer is best utilised as the person overseeing and managing the project, rather than acting as the resource responsible for executing the project.
This may sound a bit like traditional outsourcing, however, managed legal services are distinct. Some of the key differences are outlined below:
Two aspects of managed legal services differentiate it from traditional outsourcing. First, this is a managed service. That means that a project has an accountable project manager in terms of KPIs and metrics, executing delivery within budget and time frame and has responsibility for communicating information… both good and bad.
Second, technology is integral to a managed offering. The client in a managed legal services is neither interested in purchasing technology, nor interested in investing resources in getting a technology to work effectively for them and then maintaining the ongoing effectiveness of that system. However, the efficiency and consistency that technology can deliver is a valuable aspect of the deliverables they want to purchase. Additionally, the data that technology can provide in terms of KPIs and metrics empower the client to examine how they grow both their top-line revenue and bottom-line profitability. Thus, managed legal services projects always leverage technology – for project management, for automation, for knowledge sharing, for collaboration, and more – as an integral part of their structure.
The final way that managed legal services differ from traditional delivery of legal services is that they are rarely priced on an hourly basis. Pricing is generally fixed – fixed per deliverable, per time period, or another criterion – this means both cost certainty for the client and improved profit rewards the provider for their efficiency.
Managed legal services, when delivered correctly, are not simply traditional legal services that have been rebranded. This is a new business model built around project management, value driven processes, and technology supported delivery. Through the adoption of technology, disciplined and streamlined processes, and by using standardised practices, templates, market playbooks and toolkits, managed legal services can help clients to handle large volume, lower risk projects and activities without compromising on quality and accuracy. As a service model, managed legal services are more considered and effective because they are driven centrally from the clients’ own business objectives and needs.
A managed legal services provider invests time and effort into understanding those objectives and needs and assembles a cross-functional team that works collaboratively to co-design and deliver tech-enabled solutions. These solutions integrate technical expertise in specified areas of the law, regulatory affairs and government relations, project management, and change and stakeholder management. Together, they help businesses to solve some of their most challenging and pressing problems. And, in turn, giving them valuable access to new customer segments and markets.
This post was originally published on the KorumLegal Forum.