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Excuse Me, Managed Legal Services? You Lost Me There.

So what do you do now exactly? That’s a question people have asked me a lot since I left private practice and started to work with KorumLegal. It usually follows after I have told them that I am a legal consultant working with a NewLaw company that offers managed legal services (MLS). What follows then might for some be like falling down a legal rabbit hole and trying to understand new terms (even if they themselves are legal professionals). So, let me share my experience as a legal consultant with you by answering some questions on MLS.

Isn’t it just a fancy term for outsourcing legal work?

Well thank you for considering it fancy, but it is not ‘just’ outsourcing legal work. Look at it from a legal department’s point of view, which may need more bandwidth or certain expertise. For example, take a fast-growing fintech unicorn that is growing (up) rapidly and that is expanding into new territories. How can its legal department keep up with this expansion? They are already pressed for time, working their behinds off and trying to catch a breather here and there. Hiring more staff might be a solution for this, but it will take time finding the right person. And maybe you don’t want to hire more staff until there is certainty that the expanded business is sustainable. Enter MLS, a flexible solution for your legal needs, allowing a legal department to contract out part of its legal function.

Still sounding a bit vague to me, so what do you do?

Oh, your company is expanding into a new region without a local (legal) presence? Allow MLS to fill that role on an interim basis for you. And you’re saying that you need some financial services regulatory expertise to launch a new product but don’t have the appropriate expertise? Let your MLS team handle that and be the technical expert part of your company’s project team to launch it. On top of that, your MLS team can give you guidance on helpful processes and tech solutions to assist your legal or compliance teams when seeking to enter a new product segment or market that is governed by a new regulatory landscape. So, it is not ‘just’ outsourcing, it’s the adoption of a holistic approach and leveraging end-to-end project management and project governance to help clients to better understand their needs, leverage business opportunities and mitigate against identified risks.

Ah, so you are basically on a short-medium term assignment with a client?

Yes, that’s part of it. But, it’s often a combination of things though. A MLS solution is generally provided by a cross-functional team of consultants with different skill sets and expertise. One consultant might be working in-house with a client for a period, while other consultants with specialised areas of expertise/skill sets can be tapped into on an ‘on demand’ basis when technical expertise is required. Finally, another consultant can serve as the overall project manager to provide project governance and oversight and to help keep things on track.  

Sounds like a lot, but do you enjoy it as a consultant?

Oh yes. It can be challenging to adjust to a new role after having worked in private practice for many years. Roles, paths and careers in private practice are pretty clear. The situation is a little different if you work for a NewLaw company. But if you are open to new ways of working, your path as a legal consultant providing managed legal services can be much more diverse, varied and challenging. This is what keeps it interesting for me. Working with truly diverse clients and people, in changing consultant roles and on different legal or project matters. And my office? Sometimes that is home, sometimes that is the client’s office and sometimes I travel to where the client needs me!

Rolf Sperling