The lack of consensus on legal services is emblematic of the difficult relationship between the profession and the industry. The profession (licensed lawyers) resists change, even when legal consumers cry out for it. Legal buyers want „more with less.” This means that legal service providers must be proactive, forward-looking, risk-responsive, transparent, cost-effective, efficient, collaborative, multidisciplinary and consumer-centric. It is not the structure of the company, the business model or the modus operandi. On this page, you will find the legal definition and meaning of legal services, written in plain English, as well as examples of how it is used. We want the public institutions of the ALSP to take them on a journey from „I have a law firm I love” to another stage where we can say, „What is the art of the possible in legal services given the legal technology now available and downstream?” so that they can become more efficient. Ultimately, our aim is for there to be more money in an NHS provider or a community patient care provider. The law is experiencing a shrinking of „practice”, specialization, assimilation of other professionals and paraprofessionals, adaptation of technology, scalability, globalization, services in products, business discipline, emerging use of data and measures internally and with consumers, a multidisciplinary approach to consumer challenges, new delivery models and customer focus. The economic impact of these changes has not yet been fully realized, especially by non-rainmakers in large companies. Lawyers with different expertise, skills, experience and judgment – such as medical specialists – will continue to charge premium fees. Most others will experience a pay cut unless they learn new skills and use their legal training in supply management or business. Is it any wonder that the profession is resistant to change? Add legal services to one of your following lists or create a new one. Lawyers have a penchant for defining terms.
Why, then, is there no generally accepted meaning for „legal services”? One reason for this is that, until relatively recently, legal services were mainly provided by lawyers working in law firms. The Cambridge English Dictionary, for example, still defines „legal services” as „work done by a lawyer for a client.” It is time for a broader definition that recognizes legal services as the integration of practice and the provision of professional services that are not limited to licensed practitioners. This is a paradigm shift from the days when lawyers practiced and managed the delivery of legal services. Law`s journey goes hand in hand with the transition of medicine from fragmented practice groups to giants of managed health. These factors explain why a new lineup of legal service providers is reconfiguring and redefining the Big Law brand for legal services. These providers leverage new tools, processes, expertise and capital to reduce costs and provide legal consumers with multidisciplinary, timely and holistic responses to business challenges. Legal Delivery is now a three-legged stool backed by legal, technological and process/project management (business) expertise. This means that law is no longer provided solely by lawyers; It is a team sport that requires collaboration with other professionals, paraprofessionals and/or machines. This is an affront to legal pride and the myth of legal exceptionalism. It is also a confirmation that legal services are no longer synonymous with lawyers and law firms. Corporate legal buyers are looking for holistic solutions to business challenges that raise legal issues.
Legal advice alone does not address the multi-level risk-return calculation typical of complex and rapid contemporary business decisions. Law firms` credo of „best possible legal work product” no longer aligns with the speed of business or value-based service that legal buyers demand. Many in the legal profession believe that the migration of „legal” labor from in-house companies to law firms is primarily labor arbitration. Cost is usually an element of the purchasing decision, but recent studies confirm that expertise, efficiency and other factors are even more important for procurement considerations. Thomson Reuters conducted the industry`s first in-depth survey of new legal service providers in a 2017 report. The study popularized „alternative legal service providers” (ALSPs), a collective term for all non-traditional law firms with partnership models that offer „legal services.” Thomson Reuters recently released its 2019 (tracking) report, showing that ALSP`s revenue has grown from $8.4 billion to $10.7 billion in the two years since the last study. This corresponds to an average annual growth rate of 12.9% over this period. Mari Sako, Professor of Management Studies at Said Business School in Oxford and author of the report, explained that „ALSPs expand the range of services available by combining talent and technology to deliver legal services in the way that best meets their clients` needs.” The Big Four and managed services companies such as UnitedLex, Thomson Reuters and Elevate are leading the way. ALM published a report on the Big Four in 2018, warning law firms that they are „better suited to the future needs of your clients.” The report found that PwC earned $500 million from legal services (2016 data), the highest among its four major competitors. That was about 15 percent of what Latham, the best-selling law firm, earned that year. This suggests that the Big Four are far from supplanting law firms as dominant players in the market. However, keep in mind that PwC recently reported record growth in legal services revenue in 2018, which saw a whopping 30% increase.
The staggering growth can be attributed to a range of legal services offerings, including mergers and acquisitions, tax, global business management, compliance issues, immigration, and legal technology solutions. It also stems from the launch of PwC`s new Legal Operations and Transformation Services (LOTS) divisions, which help corporate legal departments streamline their operations with technology, appropriate sourcing and other legal services available across KPMG`s global network of lawyers. The Big Four are by no means the only ones focusing on managed services. UnitedLex has already secured the industry`s largest managed services contract and has partnered with DXC to „rebrand” hundreds of DXC`s internal team members. Bill Deckelman, DXC`s general counsel, hailed the landmark agreement as a success, noting that it „reduced internal contract costs by more than 35 percent in the first year and accelerated the conclusion of the final contract.” It has been reported that UnitedLex has several other such transactions in the pipeline. Elevate can also claim successful managed services capabilities, and the recent buying frenzy suggests that capacity is increasing. Welcome to a world where legal services are the „art of the possible.” What is it? It is when suppliers provide solutions to buyers` challenges and exceed their expectations. Lawyers have long called for legal services. It was the lawyers – not the clients – who dictated what was required, the timing of delivery and the costs of their blank cheque services. Now, legal services are what buyers need to solve business challenges.
It is consumers – not lawyers – who are making this call. It`s a new ball game. Law firms were the dominant force in the old game, but they are only a category of legal providers in the new one. Their structural and economic models, short-term approach, lack of investment and one-dimensional expertise in a multidimensional world are not suitable for other types of legal service providers. Law firms remain practice-oriented. Their inability to integrate practice and delivery expertise has been one of many factors that have contributed to the constant migration of „legal” work internally. The lack of delivery expertise created by businesses has also led to the proliferation and growth of technology- and litigation-driven legal service providers. The Big Four and a handful of managed services law firms — particularly UnitedLex and Elevate — are turning „legal services” into something different from what law firms offer. They play a fluid role in the market – alternatively, they compete and collaborate with companies and sometimes internal departments. They offer a range of solutions tailored to buyers` needs, not what they sell. (n) Legal services are services that relate to legal or legal matters such as the preparation of legal opinions, filing, advocacy, defence and defence of litigation, etc., by a lawyer or a lawyer providing legal services.
Thomson Reuters and ALM rightly place the Big Four in their own category of legal service providers. Each has a global brand, geographic footprint, strong ties to senior executives, Fortune 1000 customer penetration, vast war chest, technological, digital and process expertise, a multidisciplinary workforce, digital transformation expertise, and significant investments in people, technology, and continuous learning.