Law firms may have many reasons for offloading business operations to a third-party vendor—an opportunity to focus attention on areas of more strategic consequence, a way to gain access to greater expertise or, of course, a chance for savings.

But with UnitedLex’s joint venture with LeClairRyan back in the spotlight thanks to a blockbuster lawsuit filed last week by the defunct firm’s bankruptcy trustee, the failure of the deal offers a reminder to players on both sides that these arrangements should never be a pure financial play.

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