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Consumer GC Insights: What are the pain points when looking at alternative legal services?

03 November 2021

As part of our roundtable series we spoke to General Counsel from a range of consumer sector organisations to understand what their pain points were and workshop some potential technology, innovation and ALSP (Alternative Legal Services Provider) solutions.  This article explores some of the key takeaways. 

Doing 'more for less' in a sector hard-hit by the pandemic, where many legal teams are facing reduced headcount and increased workload, is a tricky but unavoidable challenge. Necessity is the mother of invention however and many legal leaders are turning to Alternative Legal Services Provider (ALSPs) other innovative approaches. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from our consumer sector in-house counsel roundtable:

"We're trying to get better at automating processes but identifying what types of work are appropriate for automation is a challenge" 
GCs discussed the attempts they have made to create processes and distinguish tasks appropriate for automation. Key stumbling blocks appeared to be around sharing the right types of data and agreeing playbooks and templates at the start to enable outsourcing in a meaningful way. Too often processes were outsourced without being optimised first which led to a mismatch of expectations around outcomes. 

One way in which legal teams are changing their approach is by moving low value, low risk work to an ever increasing number of ALSPs so that internal resource can focus on work that is more complex and strategic. Basic contracting and repapering exercises can be performed by a business set up and resourced to do just that at an appropriate price point. The key to those services are high levels of quality control and quality assurance. While the work is not necessarily valued or core it is still a pain point that needs dealing with (and it still needs doing right with the necessary risk guardrails in place).

"Resource is our pain point, volume of contracts and legal requirements have increased in the pandemic and our headcount has gone down"  
The GCs at the roundtable shared thoughts that in a market which is evolving and changing so quickly, prioritisation is key. Focus is important if you wish to really change your organisation and create efficiencies, and giving time to consider the continuous improvement loop – reviewing processes every 3 to 6 months – is the best way to uncover what is working well and what isn't. 

Others discussed the drafting of precedents for the documents which are most negotiated and the creation of semi-automated red flags and playbooks integrated into the business, to help manage the volume that need direct action from the legal team. Communication is key here, ensuring the business is clear on what the legal team do and don't do, and creating a hub where 'vanilla documents' are easily accessible for self serve will help to manage workflow. 

"I need to demonstrate the value of my team to the wider business"
We heard from a range of GCs that wanted to utilise ALSP models and technology to be able to provide better reporting to the wider business around the value their department is adding and to benchmark against industry standards. Whether it be money saved YOY, claims avoided due to processes implemented or the number of contracts reviewed by the team, many legal teams don't capture this information and track their true value. 

We discussed how businesses can work with ALSP and legal tech experts to design processes to capture more data through reporting on how they perform. The use of legal technology naturally builds in data capture points but teams have designed even basic data schemes using excel.  

"Horizon scanning legal changes is a real challenge, particularly when you're responsible for multiple jurisdictions"
All GCs were looking for solutions to this challenge and this was coupled with a wider challenge where the in-house legal team were seen to be responsible for absolutely anything that touched on the legal sphere. Some GCs had taken a hard-line approach, stating that legal doesn't own legal updates and that they are there to implement changes, but it is difficult to take that line when the business expects legal as subject matter experts within the business to be across the most up to date developments in their area (and be the gatekeepers of this knowledge). 

Whichever side of the fence you sit on, we once again come back to the theme of focus. Identifying the key themes your team will focus on and commit to ensuring the business is up to date on them in the most efficient way. Some ALSPs including Mindcrest operate Legal Analytics service offerings where Legislation is tracked and reported on to an agreed scope globally.  

Find out more

This session was one of a series of roundtables for in-house lawyers from consumer sector organisations. Read more about the series and sign up for future sessions >

If you have any questions about Alternative Legal Services or would like to discuss how you can transform the legal operations of your business please contact Craig Chaplin

Further Reading