January 29, 2019

Alternative Legal Service Provider Use by Corporations and Law Firms Exceeding Projections, Creating a $10 Billion Market

Nearly nine in ten large law firms using ALSPs, Big Four competition rising, according to comprehensive study by Thomson Reuters, Georgetown Law, Oxford Saïd Business School & Acritas

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL, WASHINGTON, D.C., & LONDON, Jan. 29, 2019 Use of alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) is growing faster than projected and is now more than a $10 billion market as ALSPs rapidly expand their footprint. Large law firms are now more likely to be users of ALSPs than corporate legal departments for many key uses. Those are among the findings in “Alternative Legal Service Providers 2019: Fast Growth, Expanding Use and Increasing Opportunity,” a new comprehensive report from Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute, The Center on Ethics and the Legal Profession at Georgetown Law, Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford and Acritas.

Among the key findings of the study:

ALSP Market Has Grown to More Than $10B

ALSPs make up a $10.7 billion market for legal services, compared with $8.4 billion as found in the previous survey two years ago, representing a compounded annual growth rate of 12.9 percent. Looking ahead, ALSPs are projecting a growth rate of 25 percent over the next few years.

Corporate Use Growing Faster Than Predicted

Corporate use of ALSPs is growing at a faster rate than predicted in the survey two years ago, particularly for services such as litigation and investigative support, document review, and even specialized and high-value services such as legal research. In some cases, growth has already met or eclipsed five-year projected growth rates in only two years.

In all, 74 percent of corporations surveyed are now using ALSPs in at least one service category, compared with 60 percent in the survey two years ago. Corporations are using ALSPs both directly and indirectly through outside law firms, with an increasing number of corporations reporting internal pressures to use ALSPs to reduce legal expenditures.

Nine in Ten Large Law Firms Now Using ALSPs

Use of ALSPs is now commonplace among law firms at all levels, which are both partnering with ALSPs and developing in-house ALSP affiliates. Eighty-seven percent of large law firms surveyed say they are using ALSPs in at least one service category. Eighty-one percent of midsize firms and 57 percent of small firms are doing the same.

The most common uses of ALSPs for law firms are e-discovery, litigation and investigation support, and legal research.

More than half of law firms surveyed say that ALSPs can help them expand and scale their business, differentiate their services, and retain client relationships.

Big Four Increasingly Competing With Law Firms

As use of ALSPs grows, law firms are increasingly finding themselves competing with the Big Four consulting firms. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of large law firms say they have had a client use one of the Big Four for work that the law firm had expected to win.   

Growth in UK & Canada Accelerating

ALSP use is also growing internationally. Use by law firms and corporations in the UK & Canada is growing, although lagging slightly behind the U.S.

“The 2019 report captures the expanding influence of ALSPs on the global legal ecosystem,” said Eric Laughlin, managing director of Thomson Reuters Legal Managed Services. “It’s not surprising to see adoption of ALSPs by both legal departments and law firms growing at a pace that has exceeded expectations. Their combination of specialized expertise, unique delivery models and use of cutting-edge technologies is rapidly disrupting the space.”

“In a short period of time, ALSPs have evolved from a relatively unknown phenomenon into a fast-growing segment that is an integral part of the legal services industry,” said Mari Sako, professor of Management Studies, Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, and one of the co-authors of the report. “ALSPs come in many different shapes and sizes, from independent LPOs to well-backed parts of industry behemoths. They are expanding the available range of services by combining talent and technology to deliver legal services in modes that best suit their clients’ needs.”

“The pace of change in the legal industry continues to accelerate, and alternative legal service providers are playing a large role in driving that change,” said James W. Jones, a senior fellow at the Center on Ethics and the Legal Profession at Georgetown University Law Center and a co-author of the report. “ALSPs offer a variety of business models that can often provide new levels of speed, efficiency, flexibility and cost-effectiveness. Not only are ALSPs here to stay, but their reach and usage will likely continue to expand rapidly — across applications, customer bases and geographies.”

“Alternative Legal Service Providers 2019: Fast Growth, Expanding Use and Increasing Opportunity” can be downloaded here.


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Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters is the world’s leading provider of news and information-based tools to professionals. Our worldwide network of journalists and specialist editors keep customers up to speed on global developments, with a particular focus on legal, regulatory and tax changes. Thomson Reuters shares are listed on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges. For more information on Thomson Reuters, visit tr.com and for the latest world news, reuters.com.

The Center on Ethics and the Legal Profession at Georgetown Law is devoted to promoting interdisciplinary research on the legal profession informed by an awareness of the dynamics of modern practice; providing students with a sophisticated understanding of the opportunities and challenges of modern legal careers; and furnishing members of the bar, particularly those in organizational decision-making positions, broad perspectives on trends and developments in practice. For more information, go to www.law.georgetown.edu/legal-profession/.

About Saïd Business School
The Professional Service Firms (PSF) Group at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, engages in teaching and research about key challenges confronting the professional services sector, including law. The Group conducts inter-disciplinary research on issues faced by professionals, their clients and regulators, such as the development and management of professional expertise and ethics, the internal and external dynamics of professional service firms, and the impact of new technology on professional work and careers. For more information, go to www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/research/professional-service-firms.


Acritas is the world’s leading provider of global legal market intelligence. We know that your success depends on the quality of your decisions. Empirical data provides the best foundation for informed decision-making and successful strategy development. That is why our experts only make recommendations to clients based on the most robust research insights. With Acritas you can be sure to find the information you need to improve business performance and sharpen your competitive edge. For more information, go to www.acritas.com.


Jeff McCoy
Thomson Reuters
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