Bob Ambrogi reported this morning that Axiom, a global legal services company providing legal professionals and technology to legal departments in the largest companies in the world, is going public.

Made me wonder who were the “alternative” legal service providers of today. Companies like Axiom or traditional law firms?

After all, Axiom already has 2,000 employees across three continents.  

A few weeks ago, Frank Ready of Legaltech News reported that Elevate, providing consulting, technology and services to major corporations and law firms, worldwide, is considering purchasing a UK law firm and going public, following the recent acquisition of two companies.

From Elevate’s founder and executive chair, Liam Brown:

We’d rather bring in public company capital so that the management team can continue to control the strategy and direction and growth of the business.

When companies such as Axiom and Elevate were started, they were viewed as alternatives to the way legal services had been provided by traditional law firms. They were labeled and are still called a “Alternative Legal Service Provider (ALSP).” 

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of ALSP’s today. They include LegalZoom down to smaller companies with Apps delivering legal services to consumers and small business people. Services that law firms could either not provide or not provide in the manner consumers expected services in an Amazon next day delivery world.

Thomson Reuters reported last month that ALSPs comprise $10.7 billion of the market for legal services, a compounded annual growth rate of almost 13% percent compared to just two years ago. The ALSP market is projected to grow by 25% over the next few years. Significantly greater growth than the traditional legal services market. 

Rather than label ALSP’s being the alternative, why not call a law firm an alternative legal service provider also. 

On one side you have any argunbaly more expensive, inefficient and tech deficient model run by law firms. 

On the other side we have companies driven by delivering services as efficiently and cost effectively as possible by leveraging innovation and technology in a fashion not hamstrung by the way it’s been done. 

I may be a bit cynical. There are many fine law firms delivering valued services. It appears though that the venture capital and public capital markets view what’s been labeled an alternative model as one that corporations, worldwide, will use an awful lot of for legal services. 

It was Justin Kan, who has raised over $65 million from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz, for his legal services company, Atrium, who said something to the effect, that when he found an industry model based on being inefficient, he wanted in. 

Ambrogi asked Cisco Chief Legal Officer, Mark Chandler, about ALSP’s in a recent edition of Ambrogi’s LawNext podcast. Ambrogi, paraphrasing a bit, relayed to me on Facebook, that Chandler  “doesn’t like the word “alternative.” He is open to any legal services provider who will offer him good quality and good value for the money.”

Law firms, Axiom, Atrium, Elevate, LegalZoom, and consumer legal serveices apps companies, they are alternative legal services providers today.