At B+B NewLaw, we have extensively researched the trend toward the Am Law 100 and Global 100 firms building captive ALSPs, and we are big believers they can provide immense value to their firms and clients. Building them can be daunting, however, and many firms struggle with where to begin. Our research, combined with a decade of experience transforming some of the world’s biggest law firms, gives us a pretty good idea. Here are our five tips for getting started.
1. Understand the competitive landscape.
A surprising number of large law firms have already launched captive ALSPs, but they are not all alike. Some are quite mature, with a number of different service offerings. Some were built exclusively to support a specific partner or project. The Big 4 accounting firms and “traditional” alternative legal service providers are also now competitors. There’s a lot of opportunity out there, but staking out the right ground is critical.
2. Overcome institutional impediments.
While a focus on the marketplace is important, at many firms the biggest impediment can be their own partners. Some are concerned about technology adoption, some worry about their firms’ reputations, some are concerned there won’t be enough work for their associates to do or it will reduce the revenue attributable to them for compensation purposes. Many are simply resistant to change. Incentives must line up to shift mindsets. A captive ALSP can only succeed if firm leadership is on board and there’s consensus for change. This requires sophisticated internal communications and a strategy that includes accountability and flexibility.
3. Consider your options.
Different firms deploy captive ALSPs differently. Some have developed unique brands, some fit within overall firm branding. Some are spun off as separate entities, some are internal practice groups. All have different economic models. Determining which model is right for your firm and your objectives is integral to success.
4. Get comfortable with technology—and process.
Many law firms conflate innovation with technology. And while technology enablement is an important driver of the efficiency required for success, many times the key is actually building processes, then fitting the right staffing model and technology into those processes. Lawyers are not typically process-oriented by nature, so relying on good process can be a big challenge at many firms.
5. Go to market like an ALSP.
Traditional law firm marketing is based upon the education, experience and expertise of the firms’ lawyers. ALSPs, on the other hand, focus on efficiency, quality and outcomes. Marketing based on education and expertise may be perfect for traditional law firm services, but it may not be the right way to reach those looking for an alternative.
At B+B NewLaw, we believe that law firms should be the ones in the driver’s seat for bringing new legal service delivery models – like captive ALSPs – to the market. We can help you understand the marketplace, identify potential opportunities, build a captive ALSP and take it to market.
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