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3 reasons you need alternative legal services

For forward-thinking legal firms alternative legal services (ALT) an exciting opportunity to shape the future. Is ALT the next step for your practice?

What are alternative legal services?

There’s no clear definition of alternative legal services. In a nutshell, they’re any legal services that follow (you guessed it) an alternative service model to those currently used by traditional legal firms.

ALT providers are transforming the Australian and global legal landscapes, generating fierce competition for traditional law firms. Hardly surprising, then, that savvy legal practitioners are fast getting in on the act.

In a 2017 survey of 38 firms, Thomson Reuters identified the following among the growing list of alternative legal services:

  • Electronic discovery services
  • Document review and coding
  • Litigation and investigation support
  • Intellectual property management
  • Due diligence services
  • Contract management regulatory risks
  • Compliance services
  • Legal drafting

Some of these services are being provided by independent start-ups, while others are new offerings from forward-thinking law firms or innovations by in-house legal teams.

What’s the attraction of alternative legal services?

The Thomson Reuters survey found that people turn to an ALSP (Alternative Legal Service Providers) for three main reasons:

  1. Cost – these new service offerings often involve automation or outsourcing, resulting in substantial cost-savings. The survey showed that future growth in the sector is likely to come from the rapid advances in AI technology, delivering even more efficiencies and cost-savings.
  2. Innovation – suddenly customers have easy access to specialist expertise in technical or administrative areas such as e-Discovery.
  3. Security – the technological solutions that underpin ALT providers enhance both confidentiality and data security - a high priority for legal firms and their clients.

Fix those fees!

The ‘billable hour’ model has long been a source of dissatisfaction for the clients of traditional legal firms (and their employees). In a competitive market, clients urgently need to be able to plan ahead for their legal bills – and ALT options make this much easier.

Why? Because alternative legal systems go hand-in-hand with alternative fee arrangements, such as flat-fee and packaged legal services.

Alternative legal services provide efficiency, speed and predictability in the mechanics of legal processes – leaving billable hours for the human, value-generating aspects of legal advice and representation.

The most exciting thing about ALT providers is that they complementrather than replace the person-to-person services that are the core of your legal practice.

Setting up an ALT service is an opportunity to:

  • Build your profile and attract new customers
  • Stay relevant and visible in an increasingly competitive market
  • Cut costs by harnessing technology to automate repetitive and time-consuming processes
  • Increase both employee and customer satisfaction by giving your staff more time to build relationships and solve their clients’ problems.

Are you ready to embrace ALT?

You may have been creating, using, discussing or even fearing ALT for some time. One of the exciting things about innovation is that you can’t reliably predict what will happen next. That leaves the way open for innovators to create the future.

Navigating change can be challenging, of course. You’ll need to guide both customers and employees through the transition – and take great care that your new services meet the genuine needs of your clients. 

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