AJS South Africa


Sort of like the right legal tech…

“By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes..”

While we all appreciate a little bit of Shakespeare and no doubt had to learn a line or two during our days in High School, this is not Macbeth and there are no witches concocting batches of magical potions. Heinous or otherwise.

However, it does seem rather like a somewhat magical union – that of legal tech and Alternative Legal Service Provider’s (ALSP’s). Obviously (hopefully) without the hysterical ramblings of a woman disdainfully washing her hands – “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!—One, two. Why, then, ’tis time to do ’t. Hell is murky!”

I mean, there is no such thing as magic – shhhh don’t tell the Potterheads

Is there?

Step in, the new age wizard. AKA Technology. More specifically, Legal Technology….

Perhaps just a sprinkling here and there?

In an industry notoriously slow to change (a line we have not only read but written many times ourselves), there are seemingly two brave wizards, breaking away from the norm. One already use to walking a path alone, lightning bolt across the forehead (aka legal tech companies). The other coming from a family well and truly part of the wizarding world, albeit more alternative and forward thinking, what with their ginger hair and obsession with Muggles (aka lawyers) … misfits destined to be friends. Right from the very first train ride. 

More or less.

It would seem that a sprinkling of the wizarding world has found its way into everyday life. And aren’t we grateful for that?

How? You may be asking yourself? You are a little delusional, some might add.

But am I?

Let me put it this way – who would have thought that part of the legal world would be dubbed as “agile early adopters and innovators of cutting-edge technologies”, reshaping the business of law and helping to change the legal landscape by reducing costs, improving efficiency and leveraging off of legal technologies paving the way for additional growth within the overall legal industry? This coming from an industry that is centuries old with long standing traditions and accepted ways that things ought to be done. 

A few years ago, that would have been unimaginable. A tall tale. Something out of a novel. Magical, even…

But here we stand, survey in hand, proving that the impossible can actually become possible. 

Efficiency, predictability, and cost-effectiveness in the delivery of legal services is the new mantra (read Spell). And the way to achieve this is to open up the world of legal practice to its newest allies. ALSP’s and their best friends – legal technology (legal tech) companies.

A little bit like a sprinkling of magic. Here and there. 

But this critical edge has not been achieved in isolation

Just like Harry Potter and Ron Weasley learning to use their magic for the first time – “swish and flick” – the key component here has been the use of (and incorporation of) legal tech into the ALSP’s day-to-day business dealings.

In fact, the Thomson Reuters survey (discussed in our article The “alternative” legal solution) has supported the fact that there is an increasing sense of collaboration, rather than competition, between law firms, in-house counsel and independent ALSP’s. Law firms and in-house counsel are collaborating with their ALSP’s counterparts, realising the value that can be gained from working with them. Rather than competing with them. Especially with regards to legal tech such as artificial intelligence which allows for the assimilation of smart contracts (as one example) thereby reducing time and energy in an area which is time consuming and can be costly for the budget conscious client

ALSP’s are in the perfect position to utilise legal tech in a way that best serves their client’s needs –  such as with e-discovery, legal research and regulatory risk and compliance services – areas where legal tech is needed. Areas where legal tech supports cost reduction and improves efficiency. Making the “swish and flick” type element to their work so appealing to clients. 

So, who uses ALSP’s and for what?

The survey found that 79% of law firms and 71% of corporations (in-house counsel) now use ALSP’s, driven by the pressing need to reduce costs, improve efficiency and leverage off of cutting-edge technologies to provide quality, reliable work.

Of the services most commonly provided by ALSP’s, both law firms and in-house counsel alike sought the assistance from ALSP’s in the following areas – 

  1. e-discovery; 
  2. legal research; 
  3. litigation/investigation support (including that of regulatory risk and compliance), and
  4. smart contracts (an area where law firms and corporations have used ALSP’s the most, seemingly bringing order to various legal documents).

With the addition of 30% of law firms also admitting to increasingly turning to ALSP’s for consulting on legal technologies. Not surprisingly (for cost, efficiency, and quality purposes), the outsourcing of these legal services can be more convenient for law firms than providing the services themselves. Whether these services are provided to corporate legal departments or other independent clients. 

With COVID having prompted law firms to embrace technology to a greater degree than ever before, pressing legal practitioners to find new ways to cut costs, more growth in the ALSP market is predicted. In fact, the survey set out that – 

“If anything, we’re just at the start of a steeper growth trajectory,”

ALSP’s provide solutions to legal problems with a more flexible and open structure comprising of not only human resources (lawyers) but also technology and other “non-legal” professionals. It seems that ALSPs have found countless ways to break with tradition and create truly innovative ways of delivering not just legal services, but meaningful commercial value.

Kind of like Harry Potter, Ron (and Hermione) defeating he who shall not be named…. (spoiler alert if you have been living under a rock).

But how, really?

With a little sprinkling of magic (here and there), of course.

Actually (and in the real world) by partnering with the right legal tech companies, as set out in our previous articles, Be flexible, man! – Incorporate legal tech into your practice and recently in The Alternative Legal Solution.  And, quite obviously, by utilising the right technology. The right technology that enables and supports its user. The type of technology that is also customizable for its user.

Legal technology providers, such as AJS, offer the following types of products to support ASLP’s in their quest to revolutionise the legal space – 

  1. XpressDox Document Assembly – allows firms to create precedents for repetitive and complex documents. Once the initial templates have been completed, more sophisticated templates can be added to the precedent library. Since most of the wording in the template is static, there will be fewer mistakes and because XpressDox is run using Microsoft Word, it enables easy use and integration into the overall AJS system (“swish and flick”);
  2. AJS Enterprise Accounting and Practice Management – an all-encompassing accounting and practice management system that provides trust accounting, debt management, matter/case management, document management, time recording, invoicing on demand, document production, workflow/process management, client reporting, as well as regulatory risk and compliance by the inclusion of both a FICA system to help firms stay on top of FICA requirements and a Conflict Checking system which performs a conflict check. All of which is both customizable and bespoke. What more could you want?
  3. AJS Express Legal Accounting and Practice Management – express is a standalone product suite that includes all of the functions you have come to expect from a professional trust and business accounting system (as described in Enterprise above). Hosted on the Cloud, it means that you can work from anywhere on almost any device, and
  4. AJS FLOW – is a Cloud based solution that allows for the management of any type of process, making it easier to automate repetitive tasks thereby increasing output by improving control and ensuring that nothing slips through the cracks. Perfect for any process that has a defined set of steps or stages. 
  • A little insider information. A hint if you will…. AJS is all about creating magic, wherever it can, and especially where the improved performance of its products are concerned.   Watch this space to see how you can benefit, even more so, from the products that AJS currently offers. It is very exciting! I can’t contain myself!

There are a number of other product suites designed to assist and support law firms, corporations and ALSP’s alike. Check out all of AJS’s products here.

  • And, it is at this point that it must be added that despite the magical union between ALSP’s and Legal tech, the product suites offered by AJS, can also be used as standalone products by law firms, in-house legal counsel and ALSP’s alike.

Whilst the partnership between the fast growing ALSP market and that of legal tech is in no way “magical” there is an aura of the unbelievable and overcoming all obstacles that makes the partnership so exciting. And certainly something to watch out for.

Who knows in which direction the legal tech/ALSP wind will blow, but with a sprinkling of magic, here and there, perhaps it can be coaxed into one of continued growth and success for years to come.

After all, this is the bringing to life of the future today (a contradiction in terms) and that in itself holds a degree of magic, even for the non-believer.

“Swish and flick” indeed….

Written by Alicia Koch on behalf of AJS

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