There’s a lot more to the corporate law function than what lawyers do.
But most of the legal profession doesn’t recognize that, and client companies suffer the resulting costs of Legal’s labor-intensive, technology-averse work methods.
This Matters to Your Business
Jeff Carr is a legendary general counsel who pioneered bringing management disciplines to Legal, with resulting cost savings and litigation prevention at FMC Technologies and Univar. He describes the corporate law function’s tools and tasks in terms of work processes and those who operate those processes:
“The lawyer of future is … just an operator of legal processes requiring a lawyer’s judgment. The legal professional of future will be a process designer and owner, as well as a manager & leader.”
So lawyers need to confine their work to processes that require their judgment: counseling executives on a course of action, court representation, drafting deal documents. All of it labor-intensive. And high-priced labor at that.
But routine and recurring tasks in Legal call for processes and related technology suited to such tasks. Not manual efforts by attorneys-in-training charged at $300 or $400 or $500 per hour.
This is where alternative legal services providers (ALSPs and law companies) and technology enable faster, cheaper, and more accurate work product than attorneys can provide for such tasks.
If this is so obvious, why belabor the point here? Two reasons:
First, because the numbers show that lawyers in-house and in law firms make relatively little use of ALSPs and law companies. They cling instead to labor-intensive work methods that maximize law department attorney headcount and provide low-skilled tasks for inexperienced lawyers employed by law firms.
Second, because the legal profession continues to slow-walk adoption of cost-efficient, fast, and accurate legal technology. Again, opting for labor-intensive work methods that emphasize the efforts of recent law graduates billed on the basis of the time they spend doing a task.
Last month Rachael Pikulski of Bloomberg Law reported that almost two-thirds of respondents to their 2022 Law and Tech Survey said they outsource work to alternative legal service providers, but that “about half of the law firm and in-house lawyer respondents reported outsourcing only 1-19% of their legal work”.
“While these results indicate that most respondents are using ALSPs, it’s interesting that they’re being used for a relatively small portion of an organization’s workflow ….”