Managed Legal Services versus Legal Secondments

3 min • 02 May 24


Managed Legal Services and the Changing Landscape

Historically, in-house legal departments have had limited options when it comes to increasing the capacity of their in-house teams – increase headcount or source for a legal secondee from a law firm.

In recent times large manpower providers such as Axiom and LOD have entered the market – although their limited “body for hire” service offerings have proved largely inaccessible to most legal teams. 

The bottom line though is that law firm secondments and mainstream “agile” resourcing solution providers do not represent an accessible option to most in-house teams. 

Fortunately, however, managed legal services can offer a viable and more cost-effective alternative to historic law firm secondment scenarios, but a value-add solution to most in-house legal team needs.


The Law Firm Secondment

Typically, legal secondees from law firms were seen as a means of the in-house legal team accessing additional capacity from their relationship with a law firm in a way that strengthens the overall relationship. 

Law firm secondments can and do work if the relationship context is correct (e.g. with large firms and their equally large clients) where exorbitant rates in actuality subsidise the secondment itself.

For some companies that are still running antiquated and redundant legal panel programs, it is often a requirement that the panel law firm makes legal secondees available, in some cases “free of charge”.

Point of order: “free of charge”, when used in the above context, is about as “free” as the thirteenth bread roll in the “baker’s dozen”.  

Interestingly, for a good number of the larger law firm secondee users - the real value of the law firm secondee is that it can frequently serve as a recruitment feeder – i.e. the secondee never returns. 

Whilst this is frequently considered an acceptable outcome for the law firm and their client, the common bonds reinforce the relationship – the underlying account value tends to be enormous. 

For most in-house legal teams, however, the lawyer secondment is an unwieldy and expensive arrangement that creates expectations to deliver future assignments to the law firm providing the secondee. 


But What About Axiom & Lawyers On-Demand Type Solutions?

Whilst some might point to the emergence of Axiom and Lawyers on Demand (“LOD”) as a new source of team capacity, the reality is that their price point is only accessible by the large client market.

In truth – the cost of services offered by such providers is not much more competitive than the cost of the legal secondee from a law firm – but without the contribution to relationship strengthening.

One upside of an Axiom / LOD type resource solution is that it does not come with the expectation that law firm mandates will be subsequently awarded as a thank you for the lawyer secondment investment.

Whist a potentially crude analogy – its primary point of difference from the traditional law firm is that the law firm is investing in “marriage” whereas the LOD/Axiom encounter is a “Tinder” date. 

As such, “Traditional Law” and “Tinder Law” secondee/agile options do not represent a viable capacity solution to most in-house legal teams. 


Managed Legal Services Fill a Resourcing Gap

Managed legal services offer in-house counsel the support they need in a manner that marries all the upsides of legal outsourcing and the in-person team dynamics, amplified by performance management.  

Given the performance pressures the in-house community faces, capacity solutions not only must address the traditional challenges posed by secondments, but also create new value release scenarios. 

With this in mind, here is our view of how the GLS Managed Legal Service Solution (also known as GLS Overflow™) outperforms law firm secondments and Tinder Law. 

Final Thoughts  

The bottom line is that law firm secondments and mainstream “agile” resourcing solutions are only accessible to a tiny portion of the in-house market – large MNCs that can afford large firms.

Accordingly, the lawyer secondment model is not a universally accessible resource option for most legal teams, and in any event, in a market that demands more value creation, it is limited in what it can deliver. 

A GLS managed legal service solution creates a synthetic version of the “additional team member” who can bring a “platform backed” potency that extends well beyond what any new hire can deliver.

Managed services are no longer about simple document review, high-volume low complexity work typically associated with outsourced legal work. 

Performance managed legal services can deliver well beyond mere capacity – becoming a gateway to new skill sets, innovation and technology to support a new day-to-day experience for the full-time team. 

Managed legal solutions such as GLS Overflow™ offer a resourcing experience for in-house legal teams that is delivered as though it is a fully integrated member of their legal team.

For any General Counsel who is looking for cost-effective real-time support. If you want to learn more about GLS Overflow™, you can download our solution overview right here

Ready to Transform Your Legal Team? 

Please check out the GLS solutions and know-how resources listed on the right side of this page – they might assist your legal team with the issues explored in this Blog. 

© The GLS Group - Law Rewritten  

The GLS Legal Operations Centre

The GLS Legal Operations Centre

Register to access your complimentary Day 1 Resource Stack packed with legal team performance resources.


GLS Ultimate Guide To Legal Operations

GLS Ultimate Guide To Legal Operations

Download this and read it thoroughly and regularly. It is a wonderful transformation companion.


Book A No-Obligation Consultation

Book A No-Obligation Consultation

If you would like discuss your legal transformation needs, please book a 30 minute free consultation with us.


GLS Legal Transformation Boot Camp

GLS Legal Transformation Boot Camp

Our hugely successful, 10-week long, email-based boot camp on how to effectively transform your legal team.


GLS Connect Zone / Intelligence Feed

GLS Connect Zone / Intelligence Feed

Visit the GLS Connect Zone and select the intelligence feed that you would like to receive from us.


GLS Legal Transformation Plans

GLS Legal Transformation Plans

Mitigate the risks of transformation failure by taking a GLS Transformation Support Plan.


chevron Back
Legal Resource Stack

Your Resources

Knowledge Centre

chevron Back
GLS Group

News/Press Release

chevron Back
Legal Tech Demo

Discovery Call