The legal industry can sometimes be a little slow to embrace a new industry advancement, cautious of trends that threaten to disrupt carefully crafted antiquated norms. The same goes for concepts like legal outsourcing; a strategy that can be used by legal teams to bring in free-lance legal talent who have specific industry experience and using their expertise for a specific project.
So, what’s the harm in legal outsourcing? Well, the only harm could actually lie in assuming there are reasons to distrust such a legal strategy, simply for being relatively ‘new’. Fact is, there just isn’t a viable reason that exists to disprove legal outsourcing’s usefulness in the industry. All that exists around this issue, are myths, which I will seek to dispel for you in this article. Consider me your legal myth buster!
1. “Outsourcing is a quick temporary fix”
Long gone are the days when outsourcing was a method akin to slapping a band-aid on an open wound. The notion that outsourcing is a quick temporary fix isn’t just outdated, it’s simply too reductive.
Outsourcing should be viewed as a vital tool for businesses to bolster their efficiency. It isn’t just a “quick fix”, it’s a viable option for businesses looking to be competitive, progressive, and flexible.
Katie Ratkiewicz, Consulting Director for JobLeaders Inc expressed that “outsourcing is no longer considered a temporary fix to a short-term need.” She went on to explain that it is now utilized as “a permanent fixture in organizational makeup.”, that is to say that the success of a law firm is partially predicated on how flexible its team is.
2. “It’s just another trend”
Every industry is subject to the ebb and flow of hot topics and trends. Especially in the age of innovation and technology, it’s easy to assume that legal outsourcing is just another fad, that solid traditional legal infrastructures (like BigLaw/TradLaw) would inevitably overtake whatever new trend popped up on the horizon. But this is precisely where the argument begins to fall apart; traditional legal infrastructures are no longer solid.
Let me offer some case studies. If we examine some of the decade’s biggest legal-business failures, what is revealed? One of the most cited reasons for these failures is a “slow in workflow”. In an article for LawFuel that outlined such failures, Bingham McCutchen was presented as a firm whose core downfall was a “fading workflow”.
The same was said for Dickstein Shapiro, a firm that employed over 400 lawyers. Sedgwick was offered up as another example, its main fallibility again being “slowing workflow”.
Today’s consumer is not limited to just one option, or just one law firm. A quick Google search will present a consumer with hundreds of thousands of options, and it’s no longer enough for BigLaw firms to flex their track-record with impressive clients. It’s no longer enough to just be “big”.
Today’s consumer is concerned with diversity, flexibility, how aptly the legal talent they’re hiring will fit with their needs as a client. By extension, law firms are concerned with these things as well. It’s an easy trade, –sacrificing some stability in employee infrastructure for a significant boost in efficiency, workflow, and the ability to offer competitive pricing for clients.
In the 2019 Altman Weil Survey, 57% of law firms reported using flexible legal talent. So if half the legal industry has turned to legal outsourcing services, can we really call it a trend? Or is it simply protocol now?
3. “It’s so hard to find someone with the exact expertise you need”
In a way, this myth carries with it some truth. It can be difficult to find a lawyer with the exact type of professional experience that is needed for a specific project. But it doesn’t have to be. This is precisely why ALSPs like LawFlex, Lawyers On Demand (LOD), and Axiom exist. Legal resourcing firms have made the process of scaling legal teams up/down seamless.
In today’s world, your specifications and criterion are used to custom-match you with the perfect legal professional. Legal resourcing companies like LawFlex have endless pools of talent. LawFlex lawyers offer a variety of experience and are qualified in over 20 jurisdictions.
The inherent benefits to using legal outsourcing is that it can help a company in any stage of its growth. There are lawyers or legal consultants for startups looking to be advised on how to protect their IP. There are lawyers that are ready to commit to a 3 month project, and lawyers that are ready to be hired on a contract basis indefinitely.
Again, the key to legal outsourcing is that it provides a client with options. So if you’re underwhelmed with your choice of legal solutions, it’s because you’re just not looking in the right places.
4. “It’s difficult to manage/work with a freelance attorney”
In a 2019 survey conducted by Altman Weil, it was found that 57% of legal departments using part-time lawyers found a 50% increase in performance/efficiency. Managing a free-lance attorney may not be the easiest thing in the world, especially amidst the virtualization of the industry during COVID-19, but as the above statistics show, hiring flexible legal talent offers a huge boost in overall firm efficiency.
The current pandemic has forced many law firms to adapt and morph into digitally-enabled platforms. This wasn’t necessarily an easy process, but now that the change has occurred, many firms are enjoying the benefits to working remotely.
It now makes more sense than ever to hire free-lance lawyers, as they would only compliment the new flexible online work-space that the firm is cultivating. In fact, in the same Altman Weil study, it was found that 63% of the survey respondents who had flexible work-spaces reported a 43% increase in efficiency.
The digitization of the legal industry is not necessarily a crux, perhaps it was somewhat of a blessing in disguise.
Jennifer Leonard, who is Penn Law’s chief innovation officer, said in a comment to the ABA Journal that “[Covid-19 ] is really fundamentally disrupting overnight every single component of the legal system.”. But not every disruption has to result in negative consequences; sometimes these disruptions are serendipitous, as Leonard points out, Covid resulted in a massive “forced experimentation.”, pushing law firms to finally embrace things like legal tech and legal outsourcing that have existed within the digital landscape for decades.
5. “Outsourcing just isn’t for me”
As per the age-old adage; to each their own. But according to EY, 72% of in-house legal departments are now outsourcing legal services to reduce costs and manage the rising volume of work.
ALSPs are proving to the industry again and again what it looks like to offer flexible services that suit any type of firm. Legal outsourcing is an abundant resource that can be used to slash costs and bolster efficiency for all parties involved. A legal resourcing firm will never ask you to sacrifice inordinate amounts of money in exchange for legal help, and these matches are made so easy, that the experience feels a lot like simply navigating a dating app.
The perfect free-lance lawyer is out there, hopefully by disproving some of these myths, you’ve realized just that.
Believe it or not…
So, you can choose to believe me, or not. But if some hesitation regarding legal outsourcing has still lingered in you by the time you’ve finished this article, take comfort in knowing you have literally hundreds of ALSPs to choose from. You are not limited to just one option, the opportunities for legal outsourcing are literally endless—and this goes for whatever side of the proverbial coin your on.
If you’re deciding the fate of your legal team, know that legal outsourcing would only help to bolster your team’s efficiency; you’d sacrifice nothing but the antiquated structure of a static legal team. Whether you’re a legal team or an attorney considering the free-lance career path, just know that LawFlex’s doors are always open.