Reflections on the future of legal service delivery
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.
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
I set up Obelisk Support in 2010, at the dawn of the Legal Services Act era.
The new regulatory regime had taken shape but we were still a year away from the first alternative business structure. Obelisk is exactly the type of innovation the Act was intended to encourage – flexibility, new ways of working, diversity and a better experience for clients.
Founder and CEO, Obelisk Support
The Act freed lawyers not only from outdated restrictions but also from outdated thinking.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.
READ THE FULL REPORT BELOW
Read the full report to discover how legal teams are benefiting from the progress in legal services delivery.