LOSING YOUR EDGE -  It’s almost Halloween, so what better time to talk about a looming threat, stalking in the shadows and waiting to descend upon its unsuspecting prey? That’s right: alternative legal service providers.  At this point, competition from ALSPs is a little bit like COVID-19: You either view it as a serious threat or you’re crowd-surfing maskless at a Smash Mouth concert. Many law firms still believe they hold key advantages over ALSPs, including the Big Four accounting firms, that continue to make them indispensable. And, so far, in-house counsel largely seem to agree. But not everyone within legal departments are as convinced of law firms’ supremacy.  And, as we explore in this week’s Law.com Trendspotter column, their influence could begin to grow as corporate legal budgets continue to tighten. I’m interested to hear what you think: Are law firms still underestimating the threat of ALSPs, including the Big Four? And do you think legal departments are beginning to waver in their loyalty to traditional outside counsel? Let me know at [email protected].

LOST COST - A majority of law firms surveyed by operations consultancy Mattern don’t intend to recover costs generated from at-home work, according to new survey results released yesterday. As Law.com’s Dan Packel reports, Mattern surveyed nearly 40 firms, ranging from global giants like DLA Piper and Baker McKenzie to boutiques and regional players, to determine the future of the “traditional soft cost” recovery model that most firms employ. But lest anyone think firms have stopped passing these costs along to clients out of the goodness of their own hearts, it’s worth noting that these expenses have shrunk because of remote work. “Overall volumes decreased due to the increase in digital output due to remote working, and the fact that home-based workers are reluctant to output large documents due to lack of home capabilities, capacity, and personal expense,” Mattern’s report concluded. As firms prepare for hybrid work to continue, a slim majority of those surveyed (51%) said they have no plans to recover home-generated soft costs. However, only 3% said they’ve fully abandoned traditional soft cost recovery or are utilizing a flat percentage of hourly billing to approximate these costs.

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