Legal services remain vitally important to (and significantly expensive for) organizations of all sizes and types, but many pressures have changed the space in a way that is tough to keep pace with. Market fluctuations and technological innovations are just some of the factors that have created this new landscape, filled with the traditional law firms of old, and now, a new generation of legal services providers with new models and specific niches. These providers have influenced the market so much that they have affected not only the models of solo practitioners and small-to-medium sized law firms, but also legacy Big Law firms.

This may seem like a lot to digest, especially when these changes happen at such a fast pace, but it is worth the minor and temporary headache. Buried deep in all of this new information are trends that, when recognized and understood, can allow you to more strategically source your company's legal services. Consumers of legal services now have the ability to see more transparently into a market that used to be purposefully opaque. So what are these new models and niches?

Executive management and strategic sourcing centers of excellence now have access to legal services providers that sometimes seem to mimic consulting firms.  These firms provide analyses and proposals about how an organization should manage their legal work, in addition to offering in-sourcing and outsourcing options. You can hire their attorneys to work on-site, off-site under set terms, and in other arrangements, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars per lawyer per hour. These firms can be hired for everything from document review on a discovery request, to ad hoc contract overhauls, to providing the full set of services that a legacy Big Law firm might provide. Minimize cost, maximize quality! And don't be fooled; these are not just small players. Yes, some of these innovative, non-traditional, and lower-cost providers focus on new niche markets or more traditional temporary-attorney staffing that may utilize newer lawyers with less experience. Others however, offer seasoned Senior Partner-level attorneys with decades of deep & broad experience, rivaling Big Law firms in their reach among the Fortune 50 and beyond.  

The changing landscape has not just affected Big Law, however, and it does not just require adjustment in the the sourcing strategy of large multi-national corporations. Start-ups, small businesses, and mid-tier companies have new and better options in this more leveled playing field as well. The rise of well managed attorney networks has skyrocketed, especially due to the the marketing capability of social media. These networks or firms, and attorneys within them, are far more transparent and up-front in terms of pricing structures than this space has traditionally seen, providing new and robust options to smaller businesses that did not have them previously. Providers focusing on and excelling at e-discovery have also created a robust niche of their own, operating  simultaneously as software service providers and law firms. Providers of this kind have gained clients from some of the fastest growing mid-sized companies in the US to the established Global 1000.

The existence of these providers in the market has changed how even the most traditional of law firms operate. The competition at all levels and across all niches has given executive management across industries and markets more options and the ability to gain better visibility and apply new metrics when approaching the legal marketplace. Instead of trying to fathom the black hole of law firm spend, strategic sourcing teams and procurement business leaders can now segment, stratify, and apply more methodical processes to this category. An e-discovery project that requires the sourcing of software, IT experts, and attorney-experts can be managed apart from other traditional services, and a modified managed IT services strategy can be a part of the solution. The C-Suite may initially want benchmarking insight that eventually leads to a sourcing initiative that centers around apples-to-apples comparisons of a traditional law firm, a temporary attorney-staffing firm, and a legal consulting provider's value propositions in relation to doc review projects. The cross-functional team tasked with determining who provides the highest quality output at the lowest comparable price-point, in alignment with the sponsor's strategic and long term goals, has a tough task ahead of them. Fortunately, today's environment has made that team's job easier due to the ability to leverage more visible and accurate data across the legal marketplace as well as other industries and categories. This team can tailor a solution that combines a professional services sourcing approach and an HR procurement strategy with a focus around new legal billing models offered today by traditional and non-traditional providers alike. 

Ah, the beauty of innovation and competition. Happy Sourcing. 

For innovative approaches to legal services strategic sourcing and other value-added procurement processes, please reach out to Source One Management Services, LLC or visit

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Jaideep Sen

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