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US Alternative Legal Service Providers Market - Outlook and Forecast 2023-2028
The market for alternative legal service providers in the United States was valued at USD 7.37 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach USD 23.04 billion by 2028, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.91% during the forecast period. These providers offer legal services outside of the traditional law firm model and play a crucial role in the industry. They offer cost-effective and efficient counsel to corporations and law firms, particularly for low-risk and high-volume tasks. The term alternative signifies a substitute for recruiting attorneys from traditional law firms.
The rise of alternative legal service providers challenges the dominance of traditional law firms, as they are now taking on a significant portion of the work that used to go directly to law firms. Today, ALSPs are not merely seen as alternatives, but as a class of highly skilled professionals chosen for their ability to handle high-volume tasks efficiently and quickly.
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USD 7.4 billion in 2021
Service, Provider, End-user, and Geography
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ALSPs leverage low overhead costs and technology to offer advantages such as cost-efficiency, simplicity, speed, flexibility, and a strong client focus. These businesses streamline and enhance legal processes to improve performance, leading to the emergence of new service categories over time. While ALSPs do not function as law firms, they provide key functions such as financial management, client engagement, strategic planning, knowledge management, and the use of technology and data.
The growth of the alternative legal service providers market in the U.S. is influenced by the state of the economy. The future of the economy appears uncertain due to factors such as a potential recession, geopolitical issues, and the impact of COVID-19 on in-house legal teams and budgets. However, past performance can provide insights into how the market for ALSPs may develop.
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demand for ALSPs that can deliver solutions quickly and cost-effectively. Companies have turned to alternative legal service providers as the pandemic has unfolded. Automation, cloud technology, and AI adoption have become drivers of growth for the U.S. ALSP market during this period.
The impending recession is expected to stimulate growth for alternative legal service providers. The impact of the recession on the legal industry will largely depend on the offerings and attributes of these providers. The performance of ALSPs can be forecasted by considering trends in the buying and selling of legal services. Providers that are digitally advanced are more likely to perform well during this period.
Creating value and value propositions are crucial in the modern legal service delivery model. It depends on how resources, pricing, finances, and investment are combined in the model. Models that offer a variety of services at flexible and fixed prices, with disintegrated and automated service delivery, are likely to succeed in the market.
Agile workflow processes, supported by diverse human resources such as junior lawyers, partners, professionals, paralegals, technologists, and technicians, are key to the success of alternative legal service providers. This combination optimizes costs and accelerates service delivery.
As alternative legal service providers become more innovative and technologically savvy, they are attracting funding and recognition for their value-added contributions to the traditional legal model. Investors are increasingly recognizing the limitations imposed by traditional law firms, leading to division and stagnation. Consequently, the market has evolved from a young industry with transactional restrictions to a driving force in the legal industry. Private equity investments have also increased in the U.S. ALSP market.
The adoption of AI and cloud technology enables ALSPs to work remotely and streamline legal processes. Law firms can benefit from AI by generating highly standardized documents through technologies like robotic process automation and confidential agreements. Cloud technology allows applications to run smoothly on third-party servers, reducing the need for extensive in-house storage. ALSPs are investing in cloud technology, AI solutions, and cybersecurity to streamline their work.
The legal industry faces significant security and privacy threats due to its nature. Law firms have access to vast amounts of intellectual property, confidential corporate and client information (including trade secrets, insider information on mergers and acquisitions, personally identifiable data), approaches to litigation, and manage significant funds. These factors make law firms highly vulnerable to breaches. Risks such as employee negligence and external threats from foreign governments or competitors can lead to stolen information or disrupted legal functions.
The market is segmented based on various factors, including service, provider, end-user, and geography.
Segmentation by Service
Investigation and Litigation Support
Document Review and Coding
Regulatory Risk and Compliance
Segmentation by Provider
New Law Companies
Staffing/Recruiting and Contract Lawyer Companies
Segmentation by End-User
Law Firms – Large Firms, Mid-Sized Firms, Small Firms
In 2022, the investigation and litigation support segment dominated the U.S. market for alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) and was valued at USD 1.54 billion. The prospect of trade wars and the potential for another economic downturn have increased concerns about litigation, prompting businesses to take preventive measures such as early case evaluation/resolution and expanding their in-house legal teams. Additionally, the nature of litigation has become more complex due to globalization, technological advancements, and the involvement of foreign companies in U.S. litigation.
During the forecast period, eDiscovery is expected to dominate the ALSPs market, with a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 23%. The U.S. is continuously refining eDiscovery laws, and the global trend towards privacy has intensified pressure on legal teams to comply with data protection obligations. Data review software with predictive coding capabilities has become essential for speedy and accurate review of large data sets in eDiscovery.
New Law companies are likely to drive the growth of the U.S. ALSPs market as they generate the highest revenue. This segment accounted for approximately 77% of the market share in 2022 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 21% from 2022-2028. New Law firms, or independent Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) providers, have disrupted the market by specializing in document review and litigation services. They cater to clients who can handle research themselves but need assistance with execution, leveraging technology and specialized talent.
Staffing & Contract Lawyer Companies were the second largest revenue generators in the U.S. ALSPs market, with a share of over 10% in 2022. These providers are reshaping the legal industry beyond technology and processes by embracing the gig economy and offering flexible working arrangements. Companies like LawFlex are attracting new-age lawyers and legal professionals as the industry seeks diverse skill sets.
In terms of end-users, law firms dominated the market with a 60% share in 2022. Law firms utilize ALSPs to reduce costs, increase efficiency for high-volume tasks, and address client demands for cost-cutting and effective service delivery. Document review and eDiscovery services are the most commonly outsourced tasks. Among law firms, large firms held a dominant share of over 43% in 2022, while mid-size firms are expected to experience higher growth rates during the forecast period.
The corporate segment of the U.S. ALSPs market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 19.61%. Corporations are increasingly looking to outsource legal services to ALSPs in order to reduce costs. Corporate legal departments have recognized the need for efficient legal operations due to issues such as overbilling, contract violations, and a lack of technological understanding. They now understand that adopting technology alone is not sufficient and requires a skilled legal operations team. Consequently, corporations view ALSPs as cost-effective and streamlined solutions to handle various legal matters, including contracts and intellectual property rights.
The U.S. market for alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) is experiencing a notable trend of international law firms embracing the concept of legal service delivery. These firms are recognizing the value of ALSPs, particularly in areas where traditional operational models are outdated or insufficient. In order to remain competitive, vendors in this industry must adapt their services to meet the evolving needs of modern legal practices.
Notably, legal organizations such as Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy are actively reimagining and revitalizing their approaches to legal service delivery. By doing so, they are positioning themselves to avoid being acquired by larger, more dominant legal entities. The disintermediation of legal work plays a significant role in the success of alternative legal service providers. While there will always be certain legal tasks that require the expertise and skill sets of highly trained lawyers, a portion of legal work can be efficiently delegated to ALSPs.
As clients increasingly explore options beyond the traditional legal landscape, the influence of lawyers and law firms in the market will likely diminish. This shift is indicative of the diffusion curve proposed by Rogers, as clients venture further into adopting alternative legal service providers. Hence, lawyers and law firms are expected to occupy a less dominant share in the legal services market.
Key companies profiled in this report include Allen & Overy, Axiom Law, Elevate Services, UnitedLex, Clifford Chance, Key Strategies, Key Strengths, Consilio, Epiq Systems, Everlaw, Exigent, Greenberg Traurig, Integreon, KLDiscovery, LegalZoom, Lawyers On Demand, Mindcrest, Reed Smith, Lumen Technologies, Morae, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, QuisLex, Thomson Reuters.
Key Questions Answered
What is the size of the alternative legal service providers market in the United States?
The alternative legal service providers market in the United States was valued at USD 7.37 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach USD 23.04 billion by 2028.
What is the growth rate of the alternative legal service providers market in the United States?
The alternative legal service providers market in the United States is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.91% from 2022 to 2028.
Who are the key players in the alternative legal service providers market in the United States?
The key players in the alternative legal service providers market in the United States include Allen & Overy, Axiom Law, Elevate Services, and UnitedLex.
What are the emerging trends in the alternative legal service providers market in the United States?
Emerging trends in the alternative legal service providers market in the United States include a focus on service delivery, increased investment, the rise of self-service functions, blurring lines between traditional and alternative services, and the adoption of artificial intelligence and cloud technology.
Which service segment dominates the alternative legal service providers market in the United States?
The investigation and litigation service segment dominates the alternative legal service providers market in the United States, with a value of USD 1.54 billion in 2022.