The New “General Contractors” for Legal Services Sourcing
Our friends at the Buying Legal Council – led by Dr. Silvia Hodges Silverstein – concluded yet another successful legal procurement conference last week in New York City. Attendance was off the charts, the speakers were spot on, and the energy and collegiality among the attendees was unlike any other conference I’ve attended this year.
That said, I must confess – like many of you, the siren call of email and other work responsibilities can cause us to listen with one ear while we type away on our laptops, still partially tethered to the office. To avoid this temptation – and to really engage with the 30 world-class speakers Dr. Hodges Silverstein assembled – I tried something new last week.
We’ve been using Slack for some time here at Level 2 Legal. In advance of the conference, we created a private channel called “#buyinglegal2018.” I used that channel to live blog the event to our team – capturing in real time the salient points raised by the speakers.
One particular insight stood out that could have served as a theme for the entire conference. It was presented on day two during an in-house panel discussion entitled “Legal Procurement – Moving from the Philosophical to the Practical or ‘How to Move the Needle.’”
During the Q&A after the panel, the following exchange took place.
- Q from Audience: “Tell us about a time when one of your law firms re-engineered something to meet your goals, rather than just offering business as usual at a lower price?”
- A from Panelist: “Where I’ve seen meaningful change in law firms is in the disaggregation of legal services — bringing in ALSPs [Alternative Legal Service Providers], tech solutions, etc. as appropriate. It’s the ‘lawyer or law firm as general contractor’ model.”
- Q from Moderator: “From your perspective, are we at a tipping point with ALSPs?”
- A from Panelist: “I don’t think we’re at a tipping point quite yet. But we do expect law firms and even our own in-house attorneys to bring competitive ALSPs and tech options to us.”
The “lawyer as general contractor” theme is only going to gain traction as a way to control cost while increasing quality and predictability. This is especially true when it comes to in-house counsel. By working closely with their organization’s legal procurement professionals, in-house counsel can become the essential lawyer as general contractor, assembling the right mix of legal service providers, outside counsel, and in-house resources to handle legal needs efficiently and cost-effectively.
At Level 2 Legal, our goal from day one has been to be the legal service provider of choice for the corporate clients and law firms we are privileged to serve. Allowing us to focus on those aspects of pretrial process and discovery that we do best frees our in-house and law firm colleagues to focus on what they do best. The analogy to a general contractor assembling the right team to do the best work at the best value is both sound and here to stay.