As the tide of recent events settle into what we are now terming “the new normal”, almost all businesses, including legal services, have found themselves needing to undergo a period of adjustment and adaptation. Within this process, outsourcing legal work has become a growing trend in the legal profession in response to the limitations of the traditional law firm model.
Law firms adapt to new challenges
The Legal industry has always enjoyed a degree of stability. The law, by its very nature tends not to change too much or too quickly, even in times of great social upheaval. However, the global impact of the coronavirus is unprecedented in the modern era. It has left its mark on the legal industry as it has almost every other sector of business and commerce.
The demand for legal services has by no means been suspended on the account of the pandemic, but with planes grounded, downsizing, and travel restrictions, the traditional methods of providing in-person legal services are less viable today than they were a year ago. This coupled with the emergence of new technologies, data security developments and increased use of the internet, has facilitated the emergence of alternative legal services at an attractive price range.
Law firms, large and small, have had to reconsider almost everything about their business model, including with respect to the size and shape of their workforce. Being able to call upon an auxiliary, adjunct or ad hoc team of lawyers should, in the short term, help firms adapt to, and recover from, the pandemic. In the long term, the flexibility and reliability provided by this new business model could eventually become integral to firms’ overall workforce.
Advantages of legal work outsourcing
Free from a profits per partner way of thinking, flexible legal providers can offer alternative fee structures and are more open to third party funding possibilities. As a result, the lawyers themselves aren’t bound by billing targets or the need to bring in and retain clients. Greater investment in technology can result in further costs savings and increased efficiency, while their workforce is often able to work remotely and flexibly.
Access to external legal talent
On-demand legal services are designed to provide add-on services to boost your legal capacity. It would allow you to support your firm on the services offered before the pandemic hit, but also to venture into new services and practice areas. Making use of flexible legal providers will allow your firm to access a higher level of talent and niche expertise that might not exist within your law firm. In this way, you can fill the gaps of your firm’s competencies. Additionally, on-demand services allows law firms to tap into global expertise, for example, if your clients are looking at international expansion or doing business with international suppliers.
Flexible legal services often have the backing of an established law firm which means they have proved processes in place and a solid know-how, support and infrastructure at their disposal. Auxiliary legal units typically guarantee the quality of the work undertaken by their freelance lawyers. Clients are allocated a dedicated relationship manager which will be the first point of call to any queries. Law firms can engage a qualified, vetted team of practitioners from a trusted external source while being able to rebuild internal capacity at a pace that is comfortable for them.
The long-term view for legal support
Although the post-COVID situation might be challenging for many businesses, the virus will eventually be defeated, consumer, investor and corporate confidence will recover, and commercial activities will resume. All of this will translate into new clients and new demands for law firms as innovation spurred by the effects of the pandemic drive the economic recovery. While demand might recover rapidly, the pace at which law firms are able to regain their pre-pandemic capacities might not. Being able to call upon an auxiliary, adjunct or ad hoc team of lawyers should, in the short term, help firms trying to adapt to, and recover from, the pandemic. In the long term, the flexibility and reliability provided by this new business model could eventually become integral to firms’ overall workforce.