This blog post is based on the excellent article by Frank Ready published in Law.com
There was once a time where the term ‘Alternative’ legal service provider (ALSP) was warranted. Law firms had not yet begun to seriously consider the implementation of legal tech, and most did not fully grasp how a tool like legal outsourcing could slash overhead fees and reduce fees for the firm itself.
It was in this time that ALSPs were truly alternative, and TradLaw was still the norm.
However, if we fast forward to the present – it’s apparent that times have changed. Law firms are honing in on streamlining operations, becoming increasingly client-centric. More and more legal teams, whether they be in-house or part of a firm, are working in tandem with legal resourcing services like LawFlex, Elevate and Axiom.
The word ‘alternative’ suggests one is opting for something other than the best default method, but now that the norms in the legal world have been renegotiated, ‘alternative’ no longer sounds right. Instead, as Frank Ready points out in his article this pivot away from ALSP nomenclature suggests a blurring of the “hard line between traditional law firms and legal service providers”.
It becomes an almost Shakespearean question; ‘what’s in a name?’ – Specifically, how does this question pertain to the shifting identity of law? Many companies have now been opting to use the term ‘NewLaw’ when describing how they fit into the legal world.
‘NewLaw’ is progressive, it’s fresh, it’s…well, it’s new. It holds with it the promise of innovation. It’s a term that rivals terms like ALSP, and ‘law company’, and as Jason Brennan, president of the Americas at Luminance posits in Ready’s article, “I think the market is saying, ‘Look, the old distinction of law firm and non-law-firm isn’t as meaningful anymore,’”.
As Frank Ready pointed out in the article though, there are uses to the ALSP name; it’s an all-encompassing term that refers to many facets of the legal service industry, and is generally instantly recognizable to industry professionals.
An ALSP might refer to a company that deals mainly in legal resourcing, or an AI/Automated software company, or a legal ops company that deals with consulting. The fact of the matter is however that the industry is coalescing and homogenizing in ways we’ve never seen before.
We are seeing a pivot away from monolithic paradigms and business structures – companies like QuisLex, EY and Elevate are providing everything an ALSP could offer, from consulting to resourcing to legaltech.
Companies such as LawFlex are now motivated by the new norm of solving an array of legal issues with an array of solutions. There’s no longer a strong need for an umbrella term if companies are adopting all the services under the umbrella.
The reason why the term NewLaw may be needed is perhaps the same reason why the term ALSP was needed when it first came about; to signify a change. NewLaw is constantly changing, constantly evolving and adapting – while TradLaw stands still, fixed in time. Abiding by TradLaw standards could be the outdated ‘alternative’, but ultimately it seems that law companies, or NewLaw is overtaking the vernacular, and general business practice as well.
This is why the term is needed, to signify a departure from the old, and a passage into the new. Of course, the term NewLaw won’t be needed for long. Soon, NewLaw will become so enmeshed in the fibres of law that it may become a misnomer in the sense that it will no longer be novel. For now though, for companies like LawFlex, the ‘NewLaw’ term fits like a glove.
This post is based on the excellent article by Frank Ready published in Law.com – click HERE to read it.