The increasing use of alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) is redefining the legal space, and the July/August 2019 issue of The Practice, from Harvard Law School’s Center for the Legal Profession, focused on this change.

It featured an interview with Brian Peccarelli, chief operating officer of Customer Segments for Thomson Reuters. He shared his perspective with David B. Wilkins, CLP faculty director, on how Thomson Reuters has shaped the growth of ALSPs and on the evolution of the legal market.

In the interview, Wilkins noted, “Thomson Reuters has been both a driver of and a participant in this change.” Indeed, Thomson Reuters has been at the forefront of ALSP market since the company’s 2010 acquisition of legal managed services business Pangea3, which the company sold to EY earlier this year. Peccarelli explained why it was no longer a strategic fit.

“We are not a professional service firm,” he said. “Where Pangea3 was going was better aligned with a place like EY, which is a professional service firm. We are a full-spectrum, technology-enabling organization, and doubling down in those areas to serve our customers was a better fit with our mission.”

Wilkins and Peccarelli also discussed how evolution has always occurred in the legal market and that ALSPs are one part of these ongoing shifts.

“Today, technological evolution is enabling a lot more choices,” Peccarelli explained. “For example, it’s enabling remote-work forces so lawyers can now have virtual office–less law firms. It’s also enabling smaller law firms to compete more effectively with larger ones by adapting technology. At the client level, they have always had a choice in how to handle their legal matters: in-house counsel, outside counsel, project or matter-based engagements, freelance counsel, and a growing list of other ALSPs.”

Their conversation also touched on how the complexity surrounding lawyers’ responsibilities – from upholding the rule of law to driving efficiency and profitability – is driving change in the legal market.

“[W]hat’s going on in the disaggregation or the unbundling of services is an opportunity for companies to better protect the core values of their organizations,” Peccarelli said. “Because the unbundling isn’t just about efficiency. It moves work around that’s routine, nonstrategic, or that the company doesn’t really have the resources or expertise to handle themselves. In a perfect world, this is freeing up the general counsel’s office to focus on high-value work while at the same time providing them with transparency through automation.”

Their conversation is best summarized in the headline: The Changes Keep Coming. See their full exchange, as well as a companion piece that cites findings of the 2019 Thomson Reuters ALSP report, here.

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