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We make no secret of our desire to be a positive force in the world – to make a dent in the universe, for law. To do that, we’ve embraced some of the big ideas advanced by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen:

Innovation

We eschew wild claims that law firms and their business model are not fit for purpose. Instead, we believe that law firms serve the most demanding, most valuable, bet-the-company advice of law market segment well. Elevate delivers capabilities that are more suitable, at a lower price, for a new type of work: the business-as-usual, run-the-company Business of Law. Our innovative business solutions are led by experts, powered by technology, and priced by value rather than by the billable hour.

Jobs to Be Done

Our solutions deliver outcomes, also known as Jobs to Be Done. Generally, people don’t buy a product or service as the end in itself, but rather to meet their actual needs. This consultative approach requires that we spend a lot of time with our customers, bringing people to the table who have walked in their shoes, who can empathize with their aspirations, priorities, and tradeoffs. We build credibility by being realistic and rack up small wins to build confidence and trust. Over time we come to understand our customers’ actual needs, wants, and behaviors – and we are on a mission to make the lives of our customers better.

How Practising Lawyers and the Business of Law Meet

We believe the overall demand for legal services is growing. Drivers include the explosion of data, globalization, and the requirements to comply with a more complex regulatory environment. Business is becoming digital and moving faster than ever. Despite this growing demand, law departments and law firms are under more cost pressure than ever. The industry is exploring new ways of getting legal work done, as evidenced by the rise of legal operations as a discipline, the adoption of procurement practices, disaggregation of legal work, and the emergence of a new type of legal service provider – the law company.

 

 

In the past, disaggregation meant that the market would segment horizontally. Law firm experts providing advice at the top of the pyramid, in-house lawyers working every day with the business in the middle, and ‘alternative providers’ providing efficient people (lawyer staffing), process (Legal Process Outsourcing or LPO), or technology (legal tech) capabilities at the bottom. The experts would disaggregate their work to focus on their highest and best use, buy the efficient business of law Lego bricks from the alternative provider, oversee their quality, and assemble them with the work practising lawyers performed themselves. But outside of disputes, litigation, and ediscovery services, this approach didn’t scale.

 

Some argue that the billable hour dominates the mindset and behaviors of law firms, placing the commercial incentives in the wrong place – charging for inputs rather than outputs, which doesn’t incent disaggregation and efficiency. Perhaps. But we have many relationships with law firms that proactively provide their clients with efficient solutions in partnership with Elevate. While the billable hour is unhelpful, it is not an insurmountable obstacle. We think law firms are well-adapted for their advice of law, bet-the-company core focus. Requiring very different capabilities, talent management, incentive systems, etc., from run-the-company Business of Law work law firms are generally less-equipped to perform.

Routine, high volume, business-as-usual Business of Law work, well-served by applying best practices and automation, has typically been the low-risk place to start working with a law company. The sourcing of low-impact/low-risk work in one legal function such as non-critical eDiscovery, renewals of non-critical patents, or routine sales contracting provides a foundation for small wins that can lead to increased adoption throughout the law department. Over time, law departments that we work with ask us to take on projects with higher value, broader scope or requiring more judgment.


The Rise of Legal Services Outsourcing
Mary LaCity, Professor of Information Systems at University of Missouri-St Louis;
Leslie Willcocks, Professor in Technology Work and Globalization at London School of Economics

 

 

In the past, if project work involved practising lawyers, we would politely decline that work and recommend that the law department contact one of their usual law firms. Then we would hope that the law firms would collaborate with us, disaggregate the efficiency work, and the customer would get what they sought. Unfortunately, that often never happened, and customers would be frustrated that they had to work the way they always had, paying the prices they always had, even while believing there was a better way. Customers started to challenge us with, “well, if there’s only one square on the checkerboard that is practising lawyers, surely you can do everything else and figure out how to deliver that one square?”

 

Over time we have hired more experienced lawyers with relevant domain expertise (e.g., in-house lawyers from tech and media, life sciences, banking, etc. sectors, or ex-law firm lawyers from commercial, disputes, employment, etc. practices). We now offer vertically integrated legal services.

The combination of practising lawyers from ElevateNext, (our wholly-owned UK ABS and our affiliated US law firm) and the global technology-enabled capabilities of the law company Elevate provides an integrated one-stop-shop for customers’ run-the-company legal Jobs to Be Done, billed on a value basis rather than by the billable hour.

 

Elevate specialises in handling business-as-usual portfolios and matters, allowing our customers’ lawyers to focus on business-critical issues. By focusing on run-the-company issues, not bet-the-company matters, ElevateNext operates differently from traditional law firms. Combining an aligned law firm and a law company integrates legal expertise with technology-enabled services to significantly lower legal spend and substantially increase efficiency without compromising outcomes.

 

 

Elevate does not engage in the unauthorised practice of law. We serve sophisticated consumers of legal services, such as Global 1000 law departments or law firms, not private citizens. Addressing this Business of Law market, our strategy is not to compete with traditional law firms well-adapted for the advice of law segment, whose partners have deep, trusted relationships with their clients. Law firms collaborate with Elevate as strategic partners to offer their clients an effective alternative to the Big Four, who have ramped up their legal services in recent years, competing with law firms.

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