This is one of a series of guides created by Radiant Law to help in-house legal teams improve their contracting processes. Although these guides are focused on handling commercial contracts, many of the approaches can be applied to other activities that you do.
- Understanding Managed Legal Services
- Topics to consider
- Buying Managed Legal Services
- Getting going
- What to do next
The number of customers and suppliers of managed legal services (MLS, and also known as legal managed services) has exploded. Unfortunately, there is little information publicly available to customers to help them figure out how best to add MLS providers to their ecosystem of legal suppliers. This guide will make it all clear.
If you’re wondering why a poacher would write a guide for gamekeepers, we believe it’s in everyone’s interests to have more sophisticated customers - frankly, some of the requests for proposals we’ve received have been shocking. We understand if you take what we say with a pinch of salt, but we would be delighted to introduce you to companies who have already gone through the process to hear about their experiences.
We are going to be focusing in this guide on contracts, which is Radiant Law’s specialty and the largest segment of the MLS market, but much of what we explain is applicable to other services such as compliance, IP, and corporate services.
Understanding Managed Legal Services
What is a managed legal service?
A managed legal service is where an external outsource supplier provides ongoing support of repeated work that would otherwise typically be provided by an in-house legal team. The most common example of this work is the support of day-to-day contracts (which often makes up over half the workload of in-house teams). The scope would typically include intake and triage, drafting and negotiations through to getting the contract finalised, approved and signed.
An MLS normally covers the more standardised, repeatable and straight-forward work, so in the case of contracts, the support would typically be of simpler (and lower value and risk) types of contracts that the company enters into at a high volume such as sales and procurement contracts. High value and complex deals are normally excluded and either kept in-house or supported by a traditional law firm.
An MLS can therefore perhaps best be seen as a way of getting a base-load of work off the desks of the in-house team, allowing the team to instead focus on more strategic, complex and interesting projects, while knowing that the other contracts are being supported predictably and safely.
A short history of MLS and ALSPs
Law firms were supporting companies with their contracts long before in-house teams were created. With the arrival of in-house teams, things started to change:
- The first step was the insourcing of much of the standard day-to-day work from the law firms into the in-house teams. This delivered immediate savings, as it’s much cheaper, with predictable work, to hire your own lawyers rather than rent outside ones by the hour. The savings have only gotten bigger as law firms relentlessly increase those hourly rates.
- The in-house teams have in turn had to deal with growing demand, but often haven’t been allowed to grow their headcount at the same rate. This is leaving many of them over-stretched and unable to get to the most valuable and strategic work because of the pressing demands of day-to-day contracts.
- New providers (often called alternative legal service providers or ALSPs) have emerged that offer a more cost-effective and sophisticated service than traditional law firms for standardised services, and so in-house teams are increasingly outsourcing the work again to ALSPs.
As a result, we are seeing a pattern of in-house teams rebalancing their service delivery model to look like this:
This approach has the in-house teams supporting the higher risk common deals, as a core and sophisticated activity. For relatively rare, specialised, and high-risk contracts, it still makes sense to rely on expert advisors at law firms rather than hire employees. Moving to the bottom-left quadrant, it’s reasonable to expect the business to safely support the low-risk, low-complexity but high-variability work that doesn’t particularly matter.
However, for the high volumes of simple and medium-complexity contracts (the top-left of the matrix), organisations are increasingly using ALSPs to provide a managed legal service or building an internal specialised team in an (often offshore) shared service centre. The shared service centre model may make sense for the largest global organisations, but given the cost and complexity of setting up an offshore centre (usually a team will bootstrap off a pre-existing centre), and the need for training, knowledge transfers, and developing internally the expertise in contracting at scale, in practice most opt for a managed legal service solution.
The ALSPs providing managed legal services tend to look very different to traditional legal suppliers:
- they usually have an offshore or near-shore base to deliver the services more cost-effectively, and
- they think more like outsourcing providers, used to meeting service levels and charging on a fixed-fee basis, with greater prioritisation of process improvement, technology, and data.
But within the community of ALSPs there is also a wide variety of organisations:
- there are “legal process outsourcers” moving up market into providing contracting services,
- there are (usually mid-tier) law firms that have set up subsidiaries specialising in standardised services,
- the Big Four accountants have set up legal services divisions,
- the “body shops” (companies that started by providing temporary lawyers) have moved into the area, and
- there are “NewLaw” law firms like Radiant Law that have been set up to provide these services.
This diversity of types of providers has in turn led to a wide variety of approaches being taken in how ALSPs deliver managed legal services (e.g., are they law firms, are they using lawyers or paralegals, is technology embedded in their offering? etc) and how they price the services (suppliers historically used to selling time rather than outputs can find it hard to stop thinking that way).
We have also noticed that it is rarely the same companies competing with us where customers run competitive tenders for MLS. This suggests a lack of clarity among buyers about who should even be considered. Many commentators on the market also appear to have a tenuous grasp on who is doing what and how to make sense of the array of services that are now available.
We therefore suggest doing your own research and talking to a number of potential suppliers to find the right fit for your organisation.
How does an MLS help?
Managed legal services are designed to get blocks of the more consistent and high-volume work off the desks of in-house legal teams. MLS can help:
- free up the time of your legal team, so that they can focus on adding business value with more complex and strategic work,
- speed up your contracting processes (Radiant turns over 75% of matters in half a day),
- ensure consistent delivery of your contracts using playbooks and predictably against service levels,
- let you scale, with spikes in demand being handled without delays,
- receive a cost-effective service with a fixed price by month or per contract,
- give you access to expertise in improving contracting processes,
- provide data, dashboards and legal technology to support your contracts, and
- deliver continuous improvement of your contracting process.
An MLS is not for everyone, though. There are good reasons why an MLS might not work for you:
- you don’t have enough contracts of a similar type to justify the service,
- you’ve got it covered - a high-performing and cost-effective internal solution that is able to handle whatever is thrown at it, or
- you want to do it yourself - we understand, we enjoy working it out for ourselves and you might just want to build your own solution.
If you want to do it yourself, we’ve produced plenty of free (or ridiculously cheap) resources to help you keep improving, including:
- our book, SIGN HERE: the enterprise guide to closing contracts quickly
- our free in-house guides
- our free Contracting Scorecard
But if having someone else take simpler contracts off your plate and deliver a world-class solution sounds appealing, read on!
Topics to consider
As you consider how to approach using a managed legal service, the following topics regularly come up in conversations.
What kinds of contracts?
When thinking about where to start, look for a block of similar agreements that are causing you pain. It may be someone leaving your team, a growth area or a new business line, an area where your team is struggling or just a group of contracts that are taking up too much valuable time.
Good rules of thumb are:
- at least 50 contracts a year on the same or similar terms,
- the contracts are regularly negotiated (so not for example consumer agreements), and
- the value of each contract is less than £5m.
The contracts can either be on your paper, the other sides’ or a mix, but in practice we support contracts that are mostly on our clients’ paper (because if you are doing enough of a particular contract type, you would normally try to use your own template).
The service can cover pretty much any type of contract. Clients are often concerned that their contracts are too specialised, but the reality is that your team members managed to learn how to do them, contracts of different types have more in common than differences, and that playbooks can quickly be built by reviewing what issues came up in the past and how they were handled (Radiant has built automated tools to identify these). But as shown in the “two-by-two” diagram above, you are looking for simpler agreements with the internal team retaining the most complex and strategic deals.
The types of contracts that are often outsourced include:
- commercial agreements, on both the sales and procurement side, such as services, goods, licences, and technology,
- specialist agreements such as ISDAs, SaaS, construction contracts, and parent company guarantees,
- international transactions, such as global roll-outs of outsourcing agreements, or intra-group agreements,
- framework, standalone and call-off agreements, amendments, and terminations, and
- even just NDAs, although these tend to be where companies are regularly forced to work on the other side’s paper.
We are sometimes asked by clients to support overflow contracts, just when the internal team is particularly stretched. We avoid these situations, as hard won experience has taught us that this is neither good for the client nor the supplier. For more on why, see this article.
Large businesses, who are the most common buyers of MLS, tend to be international, with contracts being entered into in multiple jurisdictions. You need to bear the following in mind as you decide what to include in scope:
- Time Zones: internal discussions about contracts, and negotiations themselves, mean that the supplier’s team needs to have at least some time zone overlap with the customer team. If support is needed around the world, this usually means that the supplier will need several delivery centres. This can be more expensive and complex, so consider what you really need and whether to split the scope by regions with potentially different suppliers.
- Languages: if contracts need to be supported in multiple languages, the supplier will effectively need to create a mini solution for each language (you can’t just add one speaker of that language as they will need to go on holiday etc). Consider whether you have enough volumes for each language to justify adding this to the solution, and for less common languages consider whether they should be retained in-house or use a local law firm.
- Governing Law: Closely connected to language is which legal systems you need support (i.e., the governing law of the contracts). Although there can be reticence amongst the ALSPs that are not locally regulated law firms to advise on contracts in jurisdictions with strong unlawful practice of law regulations, the pragmatic answer is normally for the in-house team to retain supervision of the contracts primarily through the playbook (and with escalations as necessary) so that the supplier is not practicing law (in a regulatory sense). All the same, this could be another good reason to leave smaller jurisdictions to be supported by a local law firm.
One of the advantages of bringing in an ALSP, is access to technology to support the contracting process. There is some technology that would normally be a no-brainer (such as dashboards tracking supplier performance or document automation used by the supplier), but there can also be good reasons why you would want to control and provide some software. For example it is normal for the customer to provide their own contract management system. This is because:
- customers need to be careful not to be locked into their supplier so that they can change them at a future point,
- you generally want to minimise, to the extent possible, integrations between customer and supplier systems, as this introduces a number of security and other issues that can slow projects down, and
- the same system may be being used by other departments in your business, so it should be controlled by you.
At the same time, you don’t want to overly restrict what the supplier uses, as this can slow down the service and introduce additional costs. Suppliers should be happy to use your systems (within reason), but plan ahead on how you are going to give access (e.g., using a virtual desktop) and where possible keep it simple and give them as much flexibility as possible so that they can give you the best and most cost-effective service.
For more on technology, have a look at our book, where we cover all the key technologies that can be used to improve the contracting process.
Lift and Drop
Most managed legal services involve a new supplier team and no transferring of personnel (either at the beginning or end of the services). That said, there are a few examples out there of full-scale outsourcings of legal departments, with just the strategic advisory and governance elements retained by the customer. Deals involving the full transfer of teams are sometimes called “lift and drop”.
These more complex deals have had mixed success and remain uncommon. They are beyond the scope of this guide, but they do raise some important points to watch out for:
- In jurisdictions where teams can transfer by law as part of an outsourcing (e.g., the UK with TUPE or the EU with ARD), make sure you include the standard cross-indemnities in your contract with the supplier to ensure that there aren’t accidental transfers.
- Be careful to maintain internal expertise about services that you have outsourced. As the supplier gets better and better in delivering the services and your team focuses on other areas, you can feel exposed if your team doesn’t still know how to do the deals. So make sure that the supplier is documenting everything explicitly and keep your team involved, for example by handling escalations and doing the more complex versions of the deals.
Buying Managed Legal Services
Buying MLS is a little different to the usual commissioning of law firms to do a piece of work. The relationship will hopefully last for at least a few years, you will have a solid description of the scope and defined service levels, and you should be paying fixed fees rather than based on time spent doing the work.
In this section we are going to explore how best to find the right ALSP for you and how to contract for the services.
Pilots vs RFPs
As with buying any long-term service, customers need to get comfortable that they are committing to the right provider for them. The customer may already know one or more potential suppliers and just choose them, but in practice given the size of the commitment, there are two ways that customers will typically approach this decision:
- try a supplier out for a relatively short period (a few weeks to a few months) with a pilot for a limited number of contracts and see what it looks like in practice, or
- run a competitive process using a request for proposals (RFP) to evaluate proposals.
Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses: pilots give you a better sense of what it will actually be like and whether the supplier can really deliver what they promised, competitive processes give you more confidence that you have compared options and prices.
In practice, a lot of customers seem to prefer to try out one area of their business with a supplier, starting with a pilot, and then grow the use of ALSPs after that, once it succeeds. After outsourcing a substantial amount of work, they will run a competitive process once in a while to confirm that they are still getting a good deal.
We have also seen customers deliberately run a two-supplier strategy to maintain flexibility and keep competition alive. This can work, so long as there is sufficient work to be genuinely valuable to both suppliers and you are willing to make the extra effort to build long-term relationships with both suppliers. It can be a little awkward, though, if one supplier is wildly better than the other.
Running a Pilot
Running a pilot allows you to experience the service and make sure that it really adds value. Ideally you would achieve two things:
- You will get some actual work done with the supplier and understand how the service performs in a live environment.
- The supplier should be not just replicating existing practices but actually improving them. This should be happening in the pilot stage so that you end up with improved playbooks, templates etc, whether or not you decide to proceed.
It is also a good time to fine tune how the final service will run, including the intake, escalation and governance processes.
A pilot would typically last between a couple of weeks and a couple of months. Enough time to really experience the service, but with a clear go/no-go decision point at the end where a longer term commitment is entered into. Pilots are typically charged on a fixed fee basis.
Running a Competitive Process
The alternative approach is to run a competitive process by issuing possibly a request for information (if you want to create a short list of suppliers from a large number) and then a request for proposals.
An RFP process is time consuming for everyone concerned and if you are going to do it, you owe yourself and your potential suppliers to do it as well and efficiently as possible. In particular, you need to do the work up front to figure out what you really need from the suppliers and provide the necessary supporting information to let them come up with a meaningful proposal. We have seen a number of examples of procurement teams trying to drag their legal colleagues into the 21st century by running a competitive process to “see what’s out there” only for the legal team to fall back on a “body shop” or traditional law firm solution. This isn’t good for anyone, so be honest with yourself in advance of what you really can and want to do.
Speaking as a firm that started by specialising in customer-side outsourcing advice, we understand the value of running a competitive process, but do consider the following:
- It is much harder to run a collaborative design process with a preferred supplier in a competitive bid situation.
- If you haven’t put your lands in order before a bid and expect the suppliers to come up with a perfect solution whilst not being able to articulate what you need or provide any meaningful data, you will inevitably be disappointed.
- If you make the process too cumbersome, the sophisticated suppliers may not engage seriously.
More generally on preparing in advance, there is a huge cost differential depending on how refined your contracting process is. For example, it is much more expensive to run negotiations using standard terms that are not short, clear, reasonable and relevant. See our book for more on how to do this, but expect to pay a lot more if (a) you are running a fundamentally broken process, and (b) you are unwilling to let the supplier have much discretion in fixing it later.
With those points in mind, how best to proceed? You will no doubt have a standard procurement process internally for running an RFP, but what varies in practice for MLS is the information you provide and the questions you ask. Here are a couple of checklists.
Information to provide
The more you provide, the better your potential suppliers will be able to design a solution that meets your needs. This is the typical information you will need to provide:
- Background to the project, including how the services are currently performed, where you want to get to in the future and your overall objectives.
- The services you need, including time zone and different laws and languages that need to be supported. Provide actual data on the respective volumes.
- The contracts that are in scope, including historic volumes and expected future volumes, and any predictable peaks during the year.
- How your standard processes work for each contract type (this is often shown with a swimlane diagram), including initiation and escalations, and any constraints on how the services must be performed.
- Your service level requirements.
- Your technology requirements: what does the supplier need to use in your environment and what do you expect the supplier to provide.
- Your pricing requirements: how should the supplier price the services and what assumptions should they make? Usually a spreadsheet will be included for the suppliers to complete to allow like-for-like comparisons (as we discuss below, if you request hourly rates, you are doing it wrong).
- Transition: what are your requirements and constraints, and what is your expected timing?
- Key commercial requirements such as expected term.
- Any requirements for contract terms (and any policies the supplier will need to comply with).
- Your key criteria that will be used to judge the outcome.
- Possible future services that may end up in scope, but you aren’t committing to at this stage.
Questions to ask
It helps to provide a standard structure for the supplier responses so that you have a fighting chance of comparing them (and to also ask the suppliers to refrain from just sending their standard marketing materials). Typical questions to ask are:
- A description of the solution and confirmation of whether any elements of the RFP are not covered. If possible future services have been mentioned, ask for an overview on the supplier’s capabilities in those areas.
- An overview of the supplier (e.g., size, locations, standard services and whether regulated as a law firm).
- Experience with providing the actual services, including case studies.
- How the team will be structured and staffed, including how the supplier will provide continuity and profiles of typical individuals.
- The supplier’s approach to building in quality.
- How volume peaks will be handled and any constraints on peak demands.
- What tools and technology will be provided as part of the solution, including benefits to you and any additional costs.
- Where the services will be provided from, the time zones covered and the size of the supplier’s current teams at those locations.
- How escalations would be handled and how the supplier would expect to work with your legal and commercial teams.
- How the supplier will deliver service improvement over the term.
- How the supplier will handle transition, including providing a plan.
- How the supplier proposes managing the account, including a draft governance structure.
- What metrics will be tracked and reports and data provided.
- How the supplier approaches security and business continuity.
- Whether any partners or subcontractors will be used as part of the service.
- Assumptions and dependencies on you.
- What insurance cover is in place.
- Any gaps and risks the supplier has identified in the scope of services and your requirements.
- Reference details for other customers of the supplier.
Contracting for Managed Legal Services
Radiant’s origin is in supporting mega outsourcing deals for customers. We can therefore say with authority that your managed legal service arrangement is unlikely to be a mega outsourcing deal. So you need to find a pragmatic balance between the normal “back of the envelope” approach to buying legal services via an engagement letter and a full blown hundred plus page outsourcing contract. As ever with commercial contracts, the most important parts are to get the scope, service levels and pricing right.
The scope of the deal is typically built around a swimlane diagram showing the key steps in the contracting process and the hand-offs. This should be supplemented by a solid description, but the priority is making sure that it is clear who is responsible for each stage. Here’s an (overly) simple example of a swimlane diagram:
Points that are important to consider:
- The way instructions are given at the beginning will be particularly impactful on the supplier’s ability to quickly get going and is worth getting right at the beginning of the service.
- There is a significant difference in the effort to support contracts on your standard terms versus the other sides’. You will want to be clear on expectations of the mix and what happens if it changes in practice.
- If you need a supplier to gather inputs from subject matter experts within your company, get approvals and otherwise run the gauntlet for getting the deals actually signed, this will have a big impact on how the supplier resources the services. Be clear on what your expectations are and be pragmatic on what will work best in your organisation.
- If the supplier needs to use your systems, be clear about what the systems are, what the systems will be used for, and how you will give access.
- Finally, be clear on what the range of volumes could be and what the expectations are if that volume is exceeded.
It is now normal to define service levels for the performance by the supplier. The typical ones are:
- Instructions are acknowledged within one business day.
- The first drafts (and reviews of subsequent mark-ups) are completed within two business days. Radiant Law operates in practice at 75%+ completed in half a day, but two days is the best (and most common) standard we have seen in contracts.
To put these standards in context, the average time (according to one study) that it takes an in-house team to turn a contract is 30.5 days, and another study had the top-quartile in-house teams turning contracts in 11.5 days.
Despite this context, the service levels above are absolutely achievable by the better suppliers and if you are told they can’t be met, you should seriously evaluate whether you are asking the right suppliers to bid! One thing to watch is whether the time to complete conflict checks is included within that initial two day period. If you are dealing with a larger law firm, that process can add multiple days. We believe conflict checks should be included within the measure - what matters is the experience of the customer.
Beyond these measures, we have sometimes seen attempts at measuring quality, but nothing that has been particularly satisfactory, and it doesn’t seem to work terribly well for these types of services. We discuss the different aspects of quality of contracting in our book so look at that for inspiration if you want to try to cover the topic further. Customer satisfaction is sometimes included in outsourcing deals, but is generally treated with wariness by suppliers, who are concerned about its subjectivity and whether there will be enough data points to get a fair picture of performance.
The topic of service credits also sometimes comes up. We haven’t agreed to them in contracts, but it is normal to give customers the ability to terminate the agreement if services are consistently below the expected standard.
Managed legal services should be a more sophisticated and predictable offering than either just buying time or paying for a dedicated team of people on the account. Suppliers now have enough experience to take the risk of how long particular matters will take on average and hence be able to give a fixed price for outputs.
With that in mind, the standard way of pricing these services is on a per-contract, per block of contracts, or a mix of fixed monthly and variable per-contract prices based on actual usage. Outsourcing pricing models can get sophisticated but (a) try to keep it simple, and (b) remember that the more flexibility you want to only pay for actual usage, the more your per-contract price will be.
We often see customers highly value budgetary certainty, and hence prefer to pay a monthly charge that covers all the expected volume, with a true-up payment only if there are particularly high volumes in a year.
Given that the services are hard to define contractually (success typically comes down to a great experience by the end users and continuous improvement), and that it is a young market with new entrants all the time, customers have generally been wary to date of making major commitments in these transactions. This can be reflected contractually in flexible pricing models and little to no hard commitment of volumes, no exclusivity, shorter term transactions and/or by making it relatively easy for the customer to terminate. Minimum terms of contracts also tend to be relatively short (typically 1-3 years, erring on the longer side for bigger transactions).
High customer flexibility is fine for smaller arrangements, but becomes trickier with larger deals where the supplier is expected to make material investments. It would be especially hard to give total day-to-day discretion to the customer in a lift-and-drop scenario. So there is a play-off, where at least part of the pricing is fixed or otherwise some base commitment is made by the customer, with increasing levels of commitment after that depending on the supplier’s investment. What absolutely doesn’t work in practice is treating the service as an overflow only, with no commitment on volumes and no clarity on when the supplier will be needed. This leads in practice to underinvestment by both sides in the relationship and disappointing results for all.
We tend to be relatively relaxed about having fewer hard contractual commitments - our view is that, whatever is in your contract, you still have to win the customer’s business every day. For those suppliers trying to build a book of business that lets them sell the company, it can be trickier to accept low commitment transactions.
Like most commercial relationships, you aren’t done when you’ve signed the contract. Long-term service arrangements need nurturing, however tempting it is just to focus on all the other things on your plate. Having said that, if you invest your time wisely, you don’t need much involvement for the MLS to thrive.
It’s common for customers to worry about the amount of work required to get a managed legal service up and running. In practice, it can be done in a few days to a few weeks, and usually only involves a few hours of their team’s time.
The reason it’s so much shorter than expected is that your supplier should already be experienced in handling commercial contracts generally and the knowledge transfer can therefore focus on what is unique to your contracts. Much of that information already exists in the form of your template agreements and a sampling of previous deals. The points you care about, the issues raised by the other side, and how you handle the issues, are all held in those documents. Your supplier should be able to unlock that information and quickly build a playbook for your approval.
The other key preparatory activity you will be involved in is working through the process details. Hopefully, this will be reasonably well understood (at least at a higher level) by the time you agree the scope, but getting the details right (enough) at the beginning will make all the difference in how the end users experience the service (and hearts and minds of your end customers are usually won or lost in the first few months of the service). A few hours training for the supplier team on how your internal processes work can be invaluable as part of this.
Meanwhile, your supplier should be getting on with configuring technology, optimising your templates, automating document production, training their team, and all the other good stuff that they promised during the RFP process. This shouldn’t take long to complete, and there is definitely a point where it will be good enough to get going. As discussed below, these activities should then continue as part of ongoing improvement activities.
Although suppliers should be able to start with the full volume of expected contracts on day 1, there will inevitably be some initial learning necessary. With that in mind, consider whether volumes can ramp up over a transition period of a few weeks to a couple of months.
This is possible, even where there is an incumbent supplier, if you start redirecting contracts to the new supplier earlier than the end of the incumbent supplier’s term. It will also help with avoiding transferring “in-flight contracts”, i.e. contracts that have already started to be supported by the in-house team or incumbent supplier. Although these contacts can be transferred if necessary, it’s not going to be the best experience for the end users or the other side in a negotiation and should be avoided where practical.
A key purpose of managed legal services is to get the contracts off your team’s desks. However, you can’t completely let go and there is a happy balance to be found involving continued oversight while also freeing up your team. This oversight should be easier than before, as you should now have access to live dashboards showing key data points as well as insights and reports from your supplier on where improvements can be delivered in the end-to-end contracting process.
In addition to keeping an eye on the new data, consider the following:
- You will need an efficient method of quickly giving feedback on points that come up in negotiations that are either not covered in the playbook or are specified in the playbook as requiring escalation. It can help to appoint someone in your team who is empowered to give quick answers, and try to avoid a consensus approach that can quickly add weeks to the negotiations. Consider also having regular escalation meetings to consider recent points and identify definitive answers.
- Radiant has an “ask only once” approach of making sure that new points are captured in the playbook, but that does require your team to actually give firm guidance for future handling of the issue. So try to err on the side of taking definitive positions rather than treating every case as special. As we discuss in our book, there are also opportunities to get rid of negotiation points by tweaking your templates, which is an important part of speeding up the overall process.
- You should be having regular governance meetings to share learning, give feedback and ensure that everything is on track. Do not stint on these meetings, they are critical to growing the relationship and preventing concerns from festering.
We are firmly of the view that:
- Radiant Law (and all the other suppliers) have huge opportunities to keep improving how managed legal services are delivered. We have reached our goal of 75% of contracts turned around in half a day, and feel we have barely scratched the surface of what is possible.
- There are also huge improvements possible in the contracting processes of every company we have seen. We talk about this improvement journey in our book and you can see how you are doing by completing our free Contracting Scorecard.
This means that no supplier, or customer, should be resting on their laurels, and that continuous improvement by your supplier is an essential part of the ongoing service. In fact, this should be one of the biggest benefits of bringing in an ALSP.
As part of the governance process, you should therefore be sharing your needs and priorities and the supplier should be coming to you with ideas for ongoing improvements. And the agreed improvements should be being delivered by the supplier as part of the ongoing process (and generally part of the base price).
These improvements may cover all sorts of aspects of the services, including refining and automating templates and playbooks, introducing other technology, building out assets for the business to use, refining processes and finding other ways to make your contracting process fly.
At some point though, you will also need to look at the retained parts of your contracting process. It’s not enough that your supplier is knocking it out of the park. What matters is the performance of the end-to-end contracting process.
Growing the relationship
We spoke earlier about how customers start experimenting with ALSPs and MLS through smaller portfolios of contracts and pilots (or by getting them to help in other ways such as contract projects). If the service is working and keeps getting better, then over time you can consider other areas of your business that might benefit from support.
We tend to see this happen with clients over time, as the business is empowered with self-help tools, the ALSP and in-house team each takes on more complex work and the need to rely on expensive law firms is reduced:
The overall aim is to build an ecosystem of suppliers that are not just traditional law firms, who understand your business, can work in partnership with your in-house team and together you solve the pressing overall goals of delivering business value and the dreaded “more for less”. These goals are totally achievable as long as everyone plays to their strengths.
What to do next
- You can get our book here, and learn more about how to make your contracting fly.
- Get a free tailored scorecard report, and see where your company is on the journey to optimal performance.
- If you’d like some help with taming and transforming your contracting processes we’d love to have a conversation. Drop us an email to set up a quick call.