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Three forces shaping legal services

As is the case in most industries, digital technology is spurring dramatic change in legal services. We see three major forces emerging and explain our plan to move forward.

Keeping pace with change

The legal services market is increasingly dynamic, as some law firms sharpen specialties in certain areas. Meanwhile, many non-law providers offer viable alternatives for special types of legal work at lower cost and higher efficiency.

Fast-moving technology is driving these changes, carrying implications for both buyers and suppliers of legal services. Digital business runs 24-7, meaning in-house legal departments absolutely must keep pace.

Read on as we describe three top trends and how best to take advantage.

Trend 1 - New role for the general counsel

Historically, law firms and a given company’s general counsel (GC) had a common goal: minimize risk. More recently, both are being called upon to act as business executives and project managers first and lawyers second.

Clients and firms are forced to operate more as a business—including forecasting revenue, making investments and creating the optimal mix of practitioners.

Additionally, thanks to modern technology, businesses operate on a 24-7 basis, meaning GCs need to provide quick and timely advice. However, legal departments face increasing budget pressure and are forced to do more with less.


Trend 2 – Strategic “decoupling”

Non-core advice and counsel work is being stripped from firms by clients in favor of vesting those services with providers whose core competencies align to those support tasks.

This would include, but not be limited to, eDiscovery activities, depositions, litigation support services, commercial contracting and more.

These service providers, true disruptors to traditional law firms, are becoming increasingly accepted as viable alternatives to traditional firms.

Competition is also rising. The United Kingdom, for example, recently decided to allow “Alternative Business Structures,” which enable non-lawyers to own and invest in law firms.


Trend 3 - March of technology

Legal departments are increasingly embracing digital tech, offering GCs opportunities to increase efficiency and accuracy of work, automate lower value processes and develop insights.

The first and easiest tool to implement is an e-Billing solution, which helps reduce reliance on paper (we continue to be surprised to discover legal departments of major companies still reviewing bills on paper).

GCs no longer have the time to review bills to confirm their company is not being overcharged or that billing guidelines are being followed. This process should be automated to save time and increase accuracy.

Many other digital solutions are available to help legal departments run faster and more efficiently.