Eden Legal’s description of its services prompted one contact to coin the phrase “Legal Department as a Service”.
Isn’t that what all legal services should look like? As we aspire to become integrated into clients’ business processes, we like that analogy and so here is a not-so-serious run down of some of the similarities – and not so similarities:
1. Economies of scale / scalability
It may be obvious. A legal service should work on an as-needed basis with the right number and type of professionals available as needed on a project, temporary or retainer basis that only a few clients could afford to have employed on a full time basis.
2. Multi-tenant environment
Subject to rigorous protection of your confidential information and avoidance of conflicts between clients, all clients get the benefit of the knowledge and structures created for any one of them. And the proof of concept has already been done.
3. Instant deployment / provisioning
A legal service should be able to help today. Always available and – subject to regulatory and professional obligations – unbureaucratic.
4. Accelerated feature delivery / upgrades
A legal service should constantly be updating its knowledge base and capacities. This benefits you without extra cost and without waiting.
5. No maintenance costs
A legal service should have acquired the knowledge, training and structures so you don’t have to. No office space, no IT costs, no subscriptions, no HR issues, no paid holidays, no pensions.
6. “Thin client” accessibility
Your legal service should work with your existing staff and tools. You shouldn’t need an in-house legal department to manage legal processes – though if you do your adviser should be able to work with it and if you don’t they can take its place. If you use Google docs so will we. If you use the cloud, Slack or Basecamp so will we. Works with any compatible client. No training required.
7. Fully customisable
A legal service should enable you to decide what you need, how and when you get it, and agree in advance the charges.
8. But hiring a professional firm is not the same as having your own dedicated legal department
If you have your own in house legal department then you will have: (i) full control over security of your data; (ii) no latency – you can go and meet your legal adviser in the same office and resolve something right now; (iii) dedicated and fully integrated resources, that understand your business and personalities; and (iv) low costs of switching between legal services providers as this is managed in-house.
What modern legal services should do is understand these concerns, and match or exceed best practices. Ask your legal adviser about the above – for sure they will already have thought them through.
So will “Legal Department as a Service” ™ join SaaS, IaaS, PaaS and the rest? We’re not so sure. But embracing some of the principles of the cloud seems a beneficial step.