By Danh Nguyen
The emergence of alternative legal solutions
Until very recently, clients with a legal issue or matter could either send it to a traditional law firm or handle it in-house. Today, clients have a lot more choice.
Different players are emerging — offering a wide range of legal-related services (eg contract lawyers, legal consultants, document review services, managed legal services, and hybrids of any of these). In-house departments have grown, are becoming more sophisticated and have higher expectations and demands from their external legal service providers. The rise of “managed legal services” or the contracting out of a part or whole of a legal function to an independent legal service provider is very much a part of this growing trend. This trend will only continue and will drive changes in how the legal services industry structures and provide services to its clients.
Globalisation, rapid advancements in technology, and economic pressures (internal and external) are driving GCs to expect more from their external advisors. This has created opportunities for new entrants — such as alternative legal service providers — to enter the fray and act as a disruptive force in an environment that has traditionally been dominated by law firms (big, medium or small).
The rise of GCs
GCs, at least those that are more receptive to change and disruption and of a better way of doing things, are frustrated with the traditional law firm model. Increasingly, they are turning to alternative providers as a way of extracting maximum value and impact from ever-shrinking legal budgets.
GCs have a lot on their desks in terms of the types of legal matters and issues they’re asked to advise on by their own internal clients. These don’t fit into neat categories of commercial, employment, tax, IT, IP, etc. GCs, themselves, are under enormous internal pressure to find more time and cost-effective ways to process legal tasks, manage risk and demonstrate they can add value to the business. That’s where managed legal services come into the picture.
“ In this new landscape, clients are right to expect that their external advisers are open to offering services in different, flexible and innovative ways — but without compromise on quality or relevance ”
GCs of today are far more experienced and have exceptional credentials — many are former partners from big reputable law firms — so they know what the firms’ strengths and weaknesses are, and are able to assess value and quality in legal services. Even if some might prefer to stick with traditional notions of quality they know — top law firm brands — they’re also willing to experiment with alternatives, particularly in areas where GCs and in-house teams simply don’t have the bandwidth or expertise, where they have a higher risk appetite (eg, document review and drafting of standardised contracts, repeatable high-volume work, etc.) or in areas where the law firms either don’t have the relevant experience or expertise or who have simply elected to not advise in that area (because it doesn’t give them the cache they need). A managed legal services provider, using its real-world, practical experience can fill this gap, quickly add value to the business of the client and provide services which are complementary to those provided by the law firm, at a much more competitive price point.
Managed legal services at KorumLegal
At KorumLegal, we’ve been providing managed legal services to different classes of clients. These can be classified into two different categories: (1) we support large US-centric MNCs who don’t have a substantive legal presence, team or capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region; and (2) we support other clients who don’t have the required expertise and experience in a certain specialised areas of the law (eg, payments/remittances, financial services regulatory or financial crimes compliance and risk management).
In the first category, we act as an extension to the client’s in-house capabilities in the Asia Pacific region by supplementing their own US-based team as we have consultants on the ground in the region who can not only provide the hands-on same-time zone support needed by the local business teams, but also provide local jurisdiction expertise and counsel that the HQ teams do not have. This can be in the form of providing support RFP documentation, contracts review, drafting and negotiation, to specialist advice on employment law or IP matters.
In the second category, we work closely with established clients as well as new entrants in the banking, financial services and payments sectors (including FinTechs and money services businesses) and assisting with their financial crimes compliance program (including AML/CTF, sanctions and consumer fraud), risk management, governance and internal controls framework.
We help clients execute on their compliance and risk management strategy by developing robust frameworks that address business needs and enhance decision making. We bring a thoughtful approach to compliance and risk management which help organisations establish disciplined management of financial crimes, operational risk, consumer protection, privacy, IT security and handling of client funds (safeguarding) through detailed assessments, process re-engineering, and model review and validation.
We serve clients with cross-functional teams that integrate industry-leading technical expertise in the areas of financial services, payments law, regulatory affairs, and change management to help businesses solve some of their most challenging and pressing problems. Used in the right way, managed legal services can quickly add value to a client’s business and help to accelerate its growth and expansion plans.
In this new landscape, clients are right to expect that their external advisers are open to offering services in different, flexible and innovative ways — but without compromise on quality or relevance.
If you’d like to learn more about KorumLegal’s capabilities in managed legal services, regulations and compliance, or simply how we can assist you in your legal solutions needs, please do not hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Danh is the EMEA General Manager & Managing Consultant of KorumLegal and an experienced general counsel with over 18 years of global commercial practice experience across banking/financial services/payments and IT/technology and outsoucing sectors. He has worked in global listed companies and in private practice on a wide range of matters including general commercial, remittances and payments, financial services regulatory, AML/CTF, business advisory and strategic risk and compliance. He has advised on and led efforts to successfully apply for remittance and payments licences in a number of jurisdictions across Asia Pacific. He brings the diversity of his experience to the KorumLegal management team in leading large transformation initiatives, using Lean Management principles, tools and practices to drive organisational, operational and cultural change, including Legal Process Management.