What is it?

Alternative Service Providers (ASPs) are legal services businesses that can provide one or more services that law firms would traditionally offer, but often at a lower cost or with other advantages, including increased expertise, flexibility, and speed.
Because they do not have to fit into the structure and hierarchy of a typical law firm environment, ASPs may be free to alter their business practices to increase efficiency using technology or other innovative practices. In fact, it’s really this outside-the-box approach to common tasks and the willingness to adapt to such practices as off-shore outsourcing, web-based services, and IT automation that has characterized alternative legal service providers.
ASPs are used by both corporations and law firms alike.

The most common tasks of ASPs are:
– Litigation and investigation support;
– Legal research;
– Document Review;
– eDiscovery; and
– Regulatory risk and compliance
– Contract review

 

Why is it important?

ASPs are redefining the modern legal industry and can be a source of efficiency and cost savings for both in-house legal departments and law firms alike.
ASPs increase flexibility for their clients by managing tasks on their behalf, allowing them to focus on other tasks and goals. ASPs can become strategic partners for their clients by offering services that would be too costly or impractical to execute internally. ASPs are often specialists who handle particular tasks with expertise, although many offer a variety of services. ASPs often incorporate state-of-the-art technology (third party or proprietary) that adds additional value for the client.

 

What to look for in an ASP?

When selecting an ASP, look for a company that aligns with your culture and goals. Look for a partner that will be responsive to your needs but encourages you to seek innovations yielding efficiencies. A best practice when looking for an ASP to conduct a short form RFP with at least 3 potential providers to gauge their pricing, strategy & fit with the LD’s goals.

 

Subcategories under Alternative Service Provider

There are different ways that companies use ASPs.  These are the terms that most commonly come up when discussing ASPs:

 

Legal Process Outsourcing

Legal outsourcing, also known as legal process outsourcing (LPO), refers to the practice of a law firm or corporation obtaining legal support services from an outside law firm or legal support services company (LPO provider). When the LPO provider is based in another country, the practice is called offshoring and involves the practice of outsourcing any activity except those where personal presence or contact is required, e.g. appearances in court and face-to-face negotiations. When the LPO provider is based in the same country, the practice of outsourcing includes agency work and other services requiring a physical presence, such as court appearances. This process is one of the incidents of the larger movement towards outsourcing. The most commonly offered services have been agency work, document review,  legal research and writing, drafting of pleadings and briefs, and patent services.

Document Review

Document review is the process whereby a party in a case sorts through and analyses the documents and data they possess (and later the documents and data supplied by their opponents through discovery) to determine which are sensitive or otherwise relevant to the case.

Managed Services

Managed services is the practice of outsourcing the responsibility for maintaining, and anticipating need for, a range of processes and functions in order to improve operations and cut expenses. It is an alternative to the break/fix or on-demand outsourcing model where the service provider performs on-demand services and bills the customer only for the work done

Staff Augmentation

Staff augmentation is an outsourcing strategy that is used to staff a project and respond to the business objectives. The technique consists of evaluating the existing staff and then determining which additional skills are required. One possible advantage of this approach is that it may leverage existing resources as well as utilize outsourced services and contract worker