Blog Post

ALSP 101: What is an ALSP?

September 29, 2022

A primer on what alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) do, the problems they address, and the law firms and GCs they support.

The general counsel of a corporate organization explains what an ALSP is and how it can drive value for contract management and other legal operations.

ALSP 101: What is an ALSP?

Legal is one of the most important departments within any organization because of its critical function in managing risk and aiding the logistical needs of a company’s transactions and litigation. Despite their importance, many legal offices struggle with efficiency and effectiveness due to the inner workings of traditional legal services. ALSPs are here to change that reality. Learn about what makes them different from the standard law firm and how their structure puts them in a unique position to help GCs with their legal operations.  

Key Takeaways

  • Traditional legal service providers offer limited options for organizations because of their hierarchical structure.
  • Today’s legal services extend beyond traditional legal needs of litigation or M&A work to include a variety of legal operations. 
  • An ALSP is a unique combination of attorneys, legal staff, and legal technology offering a flexible and effective solution for different legal service needs.
  • Law firms and corporate law departments alike can benefit from an ALSP. 

How ALSPs Differentiate Themselves from Traditional Legal Services

Before explaining the concept of ALSPs, let’s briefly discuss traditional legal service options. The law firm is likely the first organization that comes to mind when thinking of legal service providers. It is an outside collection of attorneys (ranging in seniority and skillset) along with a support staff of assistants, paralegals, clerks, and others to handle your matters. Traditionally, law firms represented the best, and sometimes the only, option for your litigation or M&A deal. 

However, today’s legal services extend far beyond the traditional needs that demand top-dollar billing rates of white-shoe law firms. Your corporate needs likely encompass a broad set of legal operations that impact the above-mentioned but don’t warrant the cost of attorney rates. Some common examples of these legal operations may include:

  • Contract management
  • E-discovery and knowledge management
  • Litigation support
  • Due diligence
  • Regulatory and compliance matters

Craig Emery, GC of Retail, Marketing, and Media at Telstra (An Australia telecom company with 33K employees)  explains the process he took to decide what could be outsourced to Exigent…

GCs are trusted advisors who are responsible for overseeing all of their legal department’s execution of these operations. All these listed items must get done for GCs and legal departments to effectively advise their c-suite. However, GCs face talent development and retention issues that create roadblocks in these areas (e.g., budgets and social movements like the Great Resignation). The intersection of your office’s legal service needs and business challenges is where an ALSP can offer its support for optimizing your legal operations.

Legal technology is a major part of how ALSPs provide value to legal departments and exist in various areas like contract management and e-billing.
Legal technology is a major part of how ALSPs provide value to legal departments and exist in various areas like contract management and e-billing.

What is an ALSP?

An ALSP is a legal service provider that leverages a unique blend of talented personnel and technology to deliver a variety of products and services that are legal but don’t always require an attorney to complete. They still hire attorneys to fulfill certain services but also employ other positions like contract specialists or compliance officers with effective training to handle other legal workflows. 

Another quality that benefits the customers of ALSPs is their flexibility. For example, one of Exigent’s working models is pay-as-you-go for your legal department. This allows you to only engage our services when needed because of a staffing shortage or a quick deadline. Using a model like this gives legal departments the necessary buffer to avoid making rush hires or delaying projects.

How Can ALSPs Help GCs and Law Firms?

At their core, ALSPs aim to address the problems GCs and their legal departments often face. For example, we could be talking about cost constraints that deter the use of vital legal technology to combat the sheer volume of legal documentation a legal team must manage. Another concern may be the departures of talent within a legal department, which can derail even the most resilient of teams. 

Additionally, the specific legal needs of an organization can sometimes be difficult to predict, making it hard to plan your legal staffing and resource needs. ALSPs address these problems and more through their flexibility and robust offering of talent and legal tech. 

Improve the Effectiveness of Legal Departments with Legal Technology

Legal technology is at the heart of ALSPs when it comes to improving the effectiveness of a legal department. This occurs in a couple of important ways. The first is data collection and analysis. Your software services should offer several key insights and benefits that allow you to optimize the speed and delivery of legal projects. Other departments within your business leverage the power of data, and your legal department should be no different. Data can highlight risks, identify blocks in legal workflows, and better guide you toward effective results.

Secondly, automating certain legal projects can create opportunities for your senior and junior general counsel attorneys to focus on the higher-level, strategic work of the company. Legal technology can provide a lift toward data entry projects of mass-produced contracts and other data extraction tasks that can make your staff much more effective in their roles. 

Contract management and legal technology services of ALSPs can address major concerns of legal departments like jurisdictional variance.
Contract management and legal technology services of ALSPs can address major concerns of legal departments like jurisdictional variance.

Preserve Institutional Knowledge for Legal Departments and Corporations

Legal service providers rely on the talent of their personnel to provide value for the legal departments and corporations they serve. While legal talent is ultimately a benefit for any general counsel office, it also poses a risk to the security of the organization should that talent ever depart. ALSPs can provide a vital hedge against that risk through services that help to centralize information and avoid situations where key legal operations become siloed in the hands of an individual attorney with Knowledge Management services.

Who Can Benefit from ALSPs? 

ALSPs can add value to any legal department or law firm in various capacities. These benefits may include incorporating processes that make your legal operations more efficient or offering a gap stop when your team has a rush document review project. The flexibility of the ALSP model means that no shortage of opportunities is available where an ALSP’s services can provide an immediate and positive impact. 

Want to Learn More About the Value of ALSPs? 

Exigent is a global ALSP prioritizing the business aspects of legal operations to give our clients the best delivery of products possible. We understand legal workflows involve much more than the traditional machinations of attorney work-product. An effective legal department requires smart use of data from your contracts and other procedures targeting your company’s bottom line. We offer a wide range of commercial legal and technology solutions for both legal departments and law firms alike. 

Contact Exigent today for a consultation about our services.