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The passing of the Legal Services Act marked the dawn of a new era – a move to liberalise the legal sector to open opportunities for innovation to benefit both legal teams and legal services providers.

In this report, we resurface the leading voices that called for change and pioneered the way; explore the impact on legal teams and cast an eye to what the future may hold.

15 years on from the passing of the Legal Services Act, has the legal industry successfully advocated for, and taken advantage of, the mood change, and the opportunities presented opening up the legal market?

The Legal Services Act (“LSA”) was passed in 2007

 

The aim of the Act was to create more competition as well as improve access to justice through the introduction of so-called alternative business structures (ABSs) that allowed non-lawyers to own – in full or in part – law firms, alongside a broader shake-up of the profession’s regulatory frameworks.

The first ABS was licensed in October 2011 and, with it, we started seeing a marked shift in the mood in the legal profession and the appetite to change and innovate more.

 

Where previously there was limited interest in different ways of working – despite a few pioneers beating the drum for change – it provided the opportunity for legal teams to accelerate adoption of buying services from different models at scale; and for legal service providers to create different ways of organising themselves. This led to unprecedented choice for legal teams.

 

In this report we resurface the leading voices that called for change and pioneered the way; explore the impact on legal teams and cast an eye to what the future may hold – and the opportunities and pitfalls for legal teams.

Chris Fowler

Position: Former general counsel, BT Technology Division

Chris Fowler

Former general counsel, BT Technology Division

Arlene Adams

Arlene Adams

Position: Founder, Peppermint Technology
Arlene Adams

Arlene Adams

Founder, Peppermint Technology

Christina Blacklaws

Position: Managing Director, Blacklaws Consulting, NED and former President of the Law Society of England and Wales

Christina Blacklaws

Managing Director, Blacklaws Consulting, NED and former President of the Law Society of England and Wales

Chris Grant

Position: Head of Legal Market Engagement, HSBC

Chris Grant

Head of Legal Market Engagement, HSBC

Crispin Passmore

Position: Founder and Managing Director, Passmore Consulting

Crispin Passmore

Founder and Managing Director, Passmore Consulting

Dana Denis-Smith

Position: Founder and CEO, Obelisk Support

Dana Denis-Smith

Founder and CEO, Obelisk Support

Helen Lamprell

Position: General Counsel and Company Secretary, AVEVA

Helen Lamprell

General Counsel and Company Secretary, AVEVA

Jenifer Swallow

Position: Business and legal consultant, former general counsel and head of LawtechUK

Jenifer Swallow

Business and legal consultant, former general counsel and head of LawtechUK

Karl Chapman

Position: CEO, Kim Technologies

Karl Chapman

CEO, Kim Technologies

Professor Stephen Mayson

Position: Independent non-executive chair, Director and Advisor

Professor Stephen Mayson

Independent non-executive chair, Director and Advisor

With thank to the following for their contributions:

 

  • Arlene Adams
  • Christina Blacklaws
  • Chris Fowler
  • Chris Grant
  • Crispin Passmore
  • Dana Denis-Smith
  • Helen Lamprell
  • Jenifer Swallow
  • Karl Chapman
  • Professor Stephen Mayson

The Act freed lawyers not only from outdated restrictions but also from outdated thinking. This report demonstrates that there has been significant progress since. But it has taken longer than some hoped for and in truth there remains a considerable way to go before the whole profession recognises that inherent in providing legal services is delivering a service. There are various reasons for this but the difficulty of changing the law’s culture is probably the biggest.

 

It is the larger end of the corporate market that has faced more barriers to fully embracing new ways of engaging legal services – and it has been heartening to see progress led by future focused legal teams. Legal service providers like Obelisk Support have relished stepping up to bring the type of fresh thinking and client-centric solutions that have, for the first time, given general counsel genuine options when allocating their spend. At a time when the ESG agenda extends across the business world, this has proved particularly valuable.

 

Obelisk Support was founded on the principle of ‘Human First’ and continues to champion it. I like to think that the legal world is finally catching up with us, and the wave of innovation unleashed by the liberalisation agenda has been a big part of that. Yet, as this report shows, there are plenty more opportunities out there for those willing to grasp them. We look forward to joining you on that journey.

 

Dana Denis-Smith

Included in this report:

Setting the scene

  • The legal services act – then and now
  • A market ripe for liberalisation
  • A hunger for fresh thinking

The era of choice

  • A value-driven approach
  • A business perspective
  • A multi-disciplinary expertise
  • Technology as a disruptor
  • Purpose-driven

What does
the future hold?

  • A mindset change
  • A true partnership
  • The push for collaboration
  • Data sharing and standardisation

READ THE FULL REPORT BELOW

Read the full report to discover how legal teams are benefiting from the progress in legal services delivery.