Beyond Traditional Law Firms: An Introduction to Alternative Legal Service Providers

The use of alternative legal service providers (ALSP) is on the rise. What are ALSPs, and how can they benefit legal teams?

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Like many members of in-house counsel, you’re likely feeling the pressure to reduce spend and increase the efficiency of your team. When general counsel members are buried under a mountain of non-specialized tasks, like document review or contract management, you need extra support for managing workload while keeping costs low.

Alternative legal service providers, or ALSPs, specialize in completing administrative legal tasks that don’t require lawyers or legal expertise. And, according to a 2023 report prepared by Thomson Reuters, the use of these law firm alternatives is on the rise. 26% of all law firms intend to increase their business with ALSPs in the coming year. And 21% of corporate firms expect to do the same—even as many larger firms continue to build their capacity to deliver ALSP services in-house.

Rather than footing the high expense of hiring outside counsel, many firms have turned to ALSPs as a way to keep their costs low, benefit from new technology, and improve their business model.

Lower Legal Costs, Improve Forecasting, and Retain Clients

It’s not always easy to budget administrative work for legal matters, especially when it comes to hiring outside counsel. Many tasks, including discovery, contract management, and investigative work, don’t need to be completed by lawyers. Even so, hiring outside counsel to complete these tasks likely means that you’re boxed into hourly rates that change based on the availability and role of counsel.

In contrast, ALSPs typically offer flat fee project billing for non-specialized tasks, helping you to lower costs and improve forecasting for legal spend. Lower costs for administrative work can also help you boost client retention. By passing along savings to clients who need your specialized legal services, you won’t risk losing business when it’s time to deliver a bill for document review.

Clear the Way for Your In-house Legal Team to Work More Strategically

According to Eric Grossman, EY Global Law Leader, more than 25% of total hours in legal function departments are spent conducting routine, low-value tasks. This isn’t the best way for in-house teams to use legal talent—and it might even inhibit your firm’s ability to deliver value to clients and continue to scale.

By delegating more administrative work to ALSPs, on the other hand, your in-house team can find new, more valuable ways to support clients and the business. This strategy works both ways, too. Because ALSPs often specialize in administrative tasks or use technology to deliver faster, more meaningful results, you’re more likely to receive a final deliverable that impresses clients without driving up costs.

Benefit from Better Tech and More Actionable Data

Unlike traditional law firms, ALSPs aren’t boxed in by red tape when it comes to investing in technology or innovating how they work. Instead, they use legal operations software powered by AI to streamline document review and other time-intensive tasks.

Over time, this has even transformed the way corporate firms handle contract management, process mapping, and business strategy. As Grossman puts it, ALSPs are changing the game for firms by “turning legal data into actionable business data.”

In an overly competitive business environment, that’s a persuasive reason to consider law firm alternatives for non-legal matters. Not to mention the likely boost to your in-house legal team’s productivity, as well as lower costs for tasks previously delegated to outside counsel.

Before you employ an alternative legal service provider, however, it’s important to know how they can assist your legal team. That way, you can net the highest return on investment possible. With a legal spend management system like Brightflag, you can leverage insights from your team’s spending data to find the best ways for ALSPs to strategically cut costs.

Learn more about Brightflag’s legal spend management capabilities, so you can take advantage of cost savings, make a painless transition to ALSPs, and support your overall business strategy.


Brightflag is a comprehensive cloud software solution for managing global legal spend, including the ability to: centralize vendors and rates; set and track budgets; manage matters; review and approve invoices; collect accruals; and run reports on everything.