Alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) are playing an increasingly valuable role in effectively delivering corporate legal process outsourcing services. With the right ALSP in their corner, general counsels can tap into a range of benefits, including increased process efficiencies, greater cost savings, and internal resources that are freed up to focus on higher-value tasks.
However, general counsels interested in reaping the benefits of a legal tech solution from an ALSP will find an abundance of options on the market. Although engaging a first-rate ALSP can be a relatively simple process, selecting a provider capable of meeting the organization’s needs is not as straightforward as it seems. Given the number of ALSPs in the market and the unique needs of every corporate legal department, general counsels must know how to identify the most suitable solutions provider and lay the groundwork for an effective relationship.
How to Identify the Right ALSP Partner and Prepare for a Successful Relationship
ALSPs are instrumental in helping general counsels bring digital transformation to their department and unlock an abundance of benefits. General counsels should first ensure they are choosing the right ALSP, as there are a variety of options on the market with a wide-range of strengths and weaknesses. To maximize value and ensure a smooth transition of services to an ALSP, companies should adequately prepare and understand what to expect with a new engagement.
With that in mind, general counsels should carefully consider the following when engaging an ALSP:
- Assess internal needs and align them with the right provider. The process of identifying and selecting the right ALSP requires an acute awareness of the legal department’s needs. General counsels should initiate an audit of the entire legal function to identify processes that could benefit the most from outsourced legal services. Knowing the type of work — whether it’s a document management solution for routine agreements such as joinders, confidentiality agreements, vendor contracts or other solutions such as contract data extraction — that can be outsourced helps narrow the selection process to ALSPs that specialize in specific types of work. For example, some ALSPs offer legal tech enabled solutions that employ a large network of freelance attorneys that are experts in specific document types, such as high-volume legal work.
- Identify a partner that can streamline onboarding. One misconception in partnering with an ALSP is that the initial engagement always takes significant time and energy upfront. It is true that the handoff process for legal services can be complex. However, an experienced ALSP should utilize a customizable yet proven process to make for a smooth onboarding experience. During any ALSP engagement, it is important for each function of the organization to have documented, built-out processes that are clearly communicated and transferred. Onboarding becomes difficult when these processes and documentation do not exist or are incomplete. A strong partner helps to facilitate the process; for example, the ALSP can create a clearly defined playbook that helps to guide processes consistently and effectively.
- Evaluate and iterate after the engagement begins. A partnership with an ALSP can’t run on auto-pilot. During the first several months, the services being completed by the ALSP should be regularly evaluated. When evaluating the effectiveness of an engagement, general counsels must also determine if they have solved the problem they set out to fix. If increasing process efficiencies was the goal, general counsels should verify that such processes have become more effective than when they were handled internally or by a traditional law firm. If it is determined that these goals have not been met, general counsels should be able to work with their ALSP to identify opportunity areas and implement process improvements.
- Humanize the process. When implementing a legal process outsourcing solution focused on improving work quality, increasing process efficiencies, and achieving cost savings, the human element can sometimes be overlooked. General counsels stand to achieve the greatest success through fostering strong human relationships both internally with key stakeholders and externally with the ALSP, ensuring that open, collaborative communication occurs. This ensures mutual understanding and alignment with respect to improvements and changes to existing processes.
If properly set up and managed, an ALSP relationship can raise the quality of work output, create significant cost savings, and free up bandwidth for teams to focus on higher impact work. By adhering to some best practices prior to the engagement and after its launch, general counsels can ensure a seamless and successful implementation. And, by making the proper considerations and decisions upfront, an ALSP partnership can prove to be a valuable asset in the long term.
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