What is an Alternative Legal Service Provider (ALSP)? Exploring a New Frontier in Legal Support.

The legal industry, once known for its traditional and conservative practices, has undergone (and continues to undergo) a significant transformation. One of the key factors driving this change is the emergence of Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs). These entities are revolutionising the way legal services are delivered, offering innovative and efficient solutions that bridge the gap between traditional law firms and hiring in-house lawyers, whilst maximising the use of technology 

The Changing Legal Landscape: The Rise of ALSPs 

Over the past few decades, the legal landscape has witnessed substantial shifts due to advancements in technology, changes in client expectations, a greater emphasis on cost-effectiveness and more recently a conceptual shift with regard to the perception of remote work and independent professional services consultants. These factors have given rise to the ALSP phenomenon, disrupting traditional norms and introducing fresh perspectives and delivery models to the way legal work is undertaken. 

Understanding ALSPs: Bridging the Gap  

Defining Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs) can be challenging, as they encompass a diverse array of entities offering a wide range of legal services. At their core, ALSPs are distinct from traditional law firms in their approach to delivering legal solutions; indeed, their very value proposition is based on providing legal services in a different, more client-centric way. ALSPs combine legal expertise with innovative business models, technology integration, remote/hybrid workforces and specialised skill-sets to provide comprehensive and cost-effective services.  

ALSPs also provide a platform for formally independent consultants to obtain interesting, challenging and flexible assignments. Many also provide these Legal Consultants with a community, within which they can share knowledge, experiences and have meaningful interaction with their peers when they want and need it. 

The ALSP Model: A Fresh Approach to Legal Support 

Key Characteristics of ALSPs

  1. Specialised Expertise and Agile Solutions: ALSPs are able to deploy a diverse group of professionals (Legal Consultants) with specialised legal, operational or project management skills, industry knowledge, and domain expertise. This enables them to offer tailored solutions that cater to specific legal challenges across various sectors and jurisdictions/regions.
  2. Flexibility for the Legal Consultant: ALSPs provide an opportunity for experienced lawyers to control their career path, specialise in areas they want to focus on, manage the cadence of their work and place greater focus on their wellbeing. This is also a positive for the client, who will generally finding themselves engaging with a motivated, passionate lawyer who is not being micromanaged and placed under pressure to record billable hours. 

  3. Cost-Effectiveness and Flexible Engagement Models: ALSPs offer cost-effective alternatives to traditional legal services. Their flexible engagement models allow clients to choose the services they need, eliminating unnecessary overhead costs associated with conventional law firms. 

  4. Innovation and Technology Integration: ALSPs leverage technology to streamline processes, automate repetitive tasks, and enhance the overall efficiency of legal services. This integration enables ALSPs to focus on delivering value, making the legal process more agile and responsive. 
Remote Capability: Many ALSPs have large global networks of Legal Consultants, allowing clients to access skill sets across time zones. And providing Legal Consultants with the ability to work from anywhere at any time. ALSPs focus on having the right person in the right role, rather than having an onsite resource. 

How ALSPs Differ from Traditional Law Firms  

Unlike traditional law firms that often rely on billable hours and extensive hierarchies, ALSPs adopt a more flexible and client-centric approach. They prioritise efficiency and innovation, providing clients with solutions that address their legal needs in a more agile and cost-effective manner. It is not uncommon for ALSPs to offer fixed price offerings. They also don’t rely on the traditional law-firm pyramid of partners bringing in the work and the more junior lawyers undertaking it. With ALSPs you get access to senior legal consultants who actually do the work, so you can be assured that you have the expertise you need, when you need it. 

ALSPs strive to offer cost models that are much more transparent than those of law firms. With most ALSPs you know the costs up front, as it is often fixed and there are no hidden costs. And perhaps most importantly for clients; without the high overheads that law firms have, in many cases clients can look forward to savings in the vicinity of 30-40% when in engaging an ALSP instead of a law firm. 

The ALSP Advantage: Benefits for Business Owners 

Business-Oriented Strategies: Tailoring Legal Solutions to Meet Business Goals

ALSPs understand that legal challenges are intricately tied to business objectives and their goal is to offer legal services in a way that makes the most sense for business. They work collaboratively with clients to develop legal strategies that align with their long-term goals, ensuring that legal support becomes a catalyst for growth rather than a hindrance. Many also position themselves as extensions of an existing in-house legal team with aligned objectives, rather than as an external adviser. 

Flexibility and Scalability: ALSPs Accommodating Business Growth 

As businesses evolve and expand, their legal requirements and budgets also change. ALSPs are equipped to accommodate such growth by offering flexible services that can be scaled up or down based on the client's needs. This scalability ensures that legal support remains relevant and effective throughout different stages of business development. ALSPs are able to draw upon legal resources from around the globe to assist businesses with their expansion strategies with specialists located in relevant jurisdictions. They commonly help with things like international due diligence and regulatory filings. 

ALSP Use Cases: Real-Life Examples of ALSP Success Stories 

Cost-Effective Legal Solutions: How ALSPs Save Business Owners Time and Money 

Consider a fintech scale-up aiming to expand into new regions and needing to ensure it can navigate myriad regulatory landscapes in a consistent way. Engaging a traditional law firm in separate jurisdictions for such services might prove costly and may not even provide the end-to-end solution that ensures practical application and implementation across the business, taking in adjacent licensing requirements such as compliance and training. In contrast, an ALSP with a focus on this domain can offer both the legal as well as practical guidance from Legal Consultants that have that essential first-hand experience, significantly reducing costs and accelerating the process. 

CASE STUDY: an example of how engaging with KorumLegal helped Wirex continue their expansion, plans, take advantage of transparent pricing and plug-in the expertise they needed – https://www.korumlegal.com/case-studies/wirex 

The ALSP Selection Process: Choosing the Right Partner for Your Business 

Evaluating Your Legal Needs: Identifying Areas for ALSP Support 

Before embarking on the journey of selecting an ALSP, it's crucial to assess your business's legal needs and workstreams. For example, this would involve differentiating work that should go to a law firm for risk profile reasons, from the work that could be kept in-house and therefore done more efficiently by using an ALSP’s subject matter experts. Many ALSPs focus their offerings on day-to-day work, helping relieve pressure on legal teams and freeing up permanent staff to focus on more strategic priorities.   

Conducting Due Diligence: Researching and Shortlisting ALSPs 

Research plays a pivotal role in the selection process. Thoroughly investigate the ALSP's reputation, client reviews, industry experience, and technological capabilities. Shortlist ALSPs that align with your business's values, needs, and goals. 

ALSP Myths and Misconceptions: Separating Fact from Fiction 

Dispelling Common Misunderstandings about ALSPs 

Despite the growing popularity of ALSPs, several myths and misconceptions persist. One common misconception is that ALSPs compromise the quality of legal services. In reality, ALSPs are comprised of seasoned legal specialists capable of delivering top-notch support. ALSP talent pools are now well-stocked with lawyers with backgrounds at top-tier law firms and legal departments. As the ALSP market has grown, so too has the number and quality of professionals choosing to work for these businesses.  

ALSPs have been so successful in disrupting the legal sector, that a number of Law Firms and indeed Management Consultancies have sought to also expand their offerings into this space. Either through creating their own ALSP as a subsidiary business or portfolio, or indeed by acquiring existing ALSPs that have a footprint in a region of interest.   

The Future of Legal Support: How ALSPs are shaping the new legal landscape 

The Impact of ALSPs on the Legal Industry 

ALSPs are not only reshaping how legal services are delivered but also influencing the legal industry as a whole. Their rise has prompted traditional law firms to reconsider their practices, move higher up the value chain in terms of the work they take on and incorporate innovative approaches to stay competitive. 

According to the Bryter Report “69% of GCs said their top concern in 2022 was managing workload against time and resources.” Based on this alone there is significant room for ALSPs in the market to make up this shortfall and provide legal consulting services to fill this gap. 

As technology continues to evolve, ALSPs are likely to harness its potential to further optimise processes, enhance accuracy, and offer increasingly sophisticated solutions. This evolution will propel the legal industry toward a more efficient, accessible, and client-focused future. Indeed, we are already seeing this with the adoption of blockchain and GenAI technologies in the legal sector. 

In conclusion, the emergence of ALSPs is revolutionising the legal landscape by offering innovative, efficient, and cost-effective solutions. Their ability to combine specialised expertise, flexible engagement models and technology provides businesses with tailored legal support that aligns with their objectives and promotes growth. As the legal industry continues to evolve, ALSPs are shaping a new frontier in legal support, pushing the boundaries of what's possible and transforming the way legal services are perceived and delivered and ultimately creating greater value for both the client and a fulfilling career option for the Legal Consultant. 

Read more about the growth of Legal Consulting as a profession here:  https://www.korumlegal.com/blog/the-evolving-landscape-of-legal-consultants-and-the-rise-of-alternative-legal-service-providers 

Natasha Norton