In the 16 years since he founded Lawyers on Demand, Simon Harper has seen several waves of change across the legal industry as general counsel have grown more comfortable working with alternative legal service providers. The past six months have represented the latest significant shift.
On the heels of the pandemic, Harper said, “We’re seeing demand driven by something different. Legal teams are thinking more strategically about how they source what they’re doing, less about pure growth in head count and more about how to efficiently get their legal work done.”
Coupled with the vanishing of secondments, a rise in the quality of attorneys available through services such as Lawyers on Demand and a need for increased adaptability inside legal departments, the result is more work shifting from law firms to alternative providers, according to general counsel and industry observers.
For William Bowes, general counsel of Condé Nast, the rise in flexible lawyering has been driven in recent years by the growing need for flexibility elsewhere within a legal department. In-house attorneys are being asked to quickly learn and apply new skills, respond to rapidly changing regulations and adapt to flexible working conditions.
“Because we need to operate in a quicker way—a different way—the demands on us are evolving rapidly and the traditional service you’d get from a law firm just doesn’t cut it anymore,” Bowes said. “The traditional service providers are thinking in traditional ways, and they’re always inevitably behind the way that people in-house are being asked to work.”
That makes it all the more valuable to have access to people thinking in new ways about legal service delivery, automation and cost models, he said. When he began working with Lawyers on Demand about a decade ago, Bowes wanted an ALSP to allow him to escape from