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Legal IT Latest: Wins, deals, listings, launches, hires and new products

Added on the 5th Nov 2018 at 6:36 am
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In a big win for Litera Microsystems, Allen & Overy has chosen to implement Change-Pro Premier and Metadact for its firm-wide document comparison and metadata management.

A&O has begun firm-wide deployment of Change-Pro and Metadact following a detailed functional evaluation.

“Litera Microsystems is a critical element of a new suite of best-in-class technologies which Allen & Overy is deploying to remain at the forefront of client service in the legal sector,” Andrew Brammer, Allen & Overy director of IT and shared services, said. “This significant investment includes a range of software, hardware and network upgrades to enable the firm’s lawyers to work with increased efficiency and agility.”

It is the second magic circle announcement for Litera in three months months, after Clifford Chance this summer elected to roll out Litera’s full document drafting suite, Litera Desktop, comprised of drafting, proofreading, comparing, repairing, cleaning and securing documents.

Acquisitions, launches and listings

Consilio on 30 October announced it has acquired DiscoverReady, a premier ediscovery, document review, and compliance solutions provider. The combined company will operate more than 70 offices, review centers, and data centers around the world in 11 countries. The company’s global operations will continue to serve investigation, litigation, and compliance matters of all sizes and complexities, anywhere in the world.

“DiscoverReady has a well-earned reputation of delivering consistently exceptional service experiences through the innovative application of advanced technologies,” said Andy Macdonald, chief executive officer of Consilio, which in April merged with Advanced Discovery, in an acquisition driven and funded by GI Partners.

“This acquisition aligns well with our strategy to invest in differentiated solutions that result in a superior and consistent client experience.” We will bring you more on that story this week.

London Stock Exchange-listed firm Gordon Dadds on Monday 29 October confirmed the acquisition of Ince & Co in a £43m deal that will create the first top 50 legal firm on the public markets and facilitate investment in better technology and working practices. Combined revenues of the new entity will exceed £100m and it will be home to more than 100 partners, with offices in nine countries.

The new firm will be led by Gordon Dadds’ managing partner & CEO, Adrian Biles supported by Peter Rogan, chairman of the board of Ince. Speaking to Legal IT Insider about the merger, Rogan said: “One of the key advantages of being listed is access to new capital.” He added: “In our case, this will allow us to maintain our competitive edge in the rapidly evolving legal market.”

Ince over the past year saw its revenue drop by 6% to £83.4m and in the summer the London-headquartered firm also made around 30 redundancies.

“In 2016, we embarked on a project to modernise our IT and related infrastructure,” Rogan explained. “These new technologies include the use of Microsoft Surface Pro 4 tablets and the latest generation Wi-Fi with increased capacity and security.

“This has enabled us to move to an agile way of working, which we believe improves the working lives of our people and the service that we offer clients. Similar upgrades have already been rolled out to our international offices and with access to new capital we will be better positioned to continue to adopt new technologies and working practices.” Amy Carroll has the full story and an update on the IPO picture.

Herbert Smith Freehills has launched a global legal operations function, bringing together the firm’s legal project management, pricing, legal process improvement, innovation and automation teams in a single division. The new unit will work to better deploy technology and innovation to provide more effective and efficient services to clients.

The legal operations function is headed by former head of pricing Ian Gilbert, who tells us: “What is changing is that we have people deployed around the firm, across all our main geographies and practice groups, that are looking at how we can deploy innovation and technology more effectively.” He adds: “It is about how we can better understand our clients’ needs and better understand what their clients’ needs are as well.”

The new legal operations function mirrors equivalent functions within clients’ in-house legal teams that have exponentially grown in response to the need to cut costs and increase efficiency.

Commenting on the story, IT consultant Andy Stokes says: Whilst not entirely novel, this is an interesting approach, and one to be applauded. Offering clients a seamless experience with direct contact between parties at the same level of skill and experience is entirely sensible and one which alleviates the ‘all contact must be through a Partner’ approach seen in so many firms and which slows communication and introduces misinterpretation.

“We used to talk about the problems of ‘data silos’, but there is also the issue of ‘functional silos’ which is still prevalent in too many large law firms, whereby organisation is along functional lines and fiefdoms can too easily form. Whilst this is becoming addressed with the creation of COO roles within law firms, these are still subject to ‘the Partner knows best’ rulings. And even when the ‘seamless experience’ is presented to the client, this is all too often merely the lipstick on the pig.

“I’ve stated before that the rising stars of the future within legal will be those hybrids that can span functional areas, and the HSF approach would appear to be one where such stars can blossom.”

Spurred on by a year that has seen it raise $13m in Series A funding and revenue grow by over 500%, Tessian (formerly CheckRecipient) has opened its first office outside of the UK in New York.

The Park Avenue South office is headed by Ben Freeman, who has relocated there from Tessian’s London office. Tessian is an intelligent email security platform that prevents misaddressed and unauthorised emails – which, it will remind you, was the biggest cause of data loss reported to the ICO in 2017.

Freeman tells us: “We have had an amazing year: Series A, new office, incredible new customers and annual recurring revenue is up by over 500% in the last 12 months. After incredible success and beating our projected forecasts we are excited to announce we will be opening our first US office, which will be based in New York, to spearhead growth there.”

Hires

Linklaters has hired former Ashurst global IT director Bruna Pellicci as its new chief technology officer; a role that was created following the promotion this year of director of technology Matt Peers to global chief operating officer.

Pellicci, who starts on Monday 5 November and has a global remit, was one of four final candidates in a selection process that was kick started at the beginning of the year. Speaking to Legal IT Insider, Peers, who retains a dual COO/director of technology title, said: “We had two males and two females on short list and they were all very good candidates, but Bruna was the standout.”

One of the key things in Pellicci’s favour was the work she has done at Ashurst in helping to deliver a number of transformation initiatives, as well as her achievements in progressing the cloud agenda.

“She has great experience in delivering quite difficult change at Ashurst and we can benefit from that, plus the breadth and complexity of Linklaters will suit Bruna’s next stage of development,” said Peers.

Elevate  continues to build its international consulting capability with the appointment of Steven Walker as managing director of law department and contracts consulting for Asia Pacific.

Walker worked for several years as vice president and South Pacific general counsel for Hewlett Packard and was instrumental in the company’s global legal transformation and contracting optimisation programs. Most recently, his consulting business, Gen2Law, has helped law departments and firms navigate strategy and technology, and he will continue to work with these customers at Elevate, which serves both law firms and corporate legal teams.

Walker’s hire only shortly follows the announcement that Elevate has launched operations in Poland, and in June it hired Craig Conte from Capgemini as managing director, head of contracts consulting.

In the Spring, Elevate secured financing from a credit fund managed by growth private equity fund Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital, which it said it will use for strategic acquisitions, investment in its Cael enterprise legal management software and expansion of its delivery capabilities.

The company has grown by over 30 percent per annum every year since incorporation in 2011, with current annual sales of over $40 million. Its most recent acquisition was legal technology company Legal OnRamp in 2016.

Product news

Thomson Reuters has just introduced its latest features on Westlaw Edge, adding Delaware Court of Chancery state court to its integrated Litigation Analytics and introducing Regulations Compare, a service that allows legal researchers to quickly understand how a federal regulation has changed over time. Westlaw Edge is the latest version of Westlaw from Thomson Reuters.

Using Regulations Compare on Westlaw Edge, legal professionals can see the most recent changes to a federal regulation and compare any two versions going back to 2005, saving significant time. Additions to a regulation are indicated by highlighting, while deletions are indicated by red strikethrough. This eliminates the painful task of manually comparing historical versions of the Federal Register.

The new feature has coverage for all federal regulations and users can download, print or email the comparison, similar to how they use Statutes Compare, the popular Westlaw Edge feature that launched with the product in July and allows users to investigate the evolution of a statute. And now, within both Statutes Compare and Regulations Compare, researchers can simply navigate to the next and previous change within the document.

Commentary

Don’t miss the interview between industry analyst Ari Kaplan and Michele DeStefano, a professor of law at the University of Miami School of law and the founder and executive director of LawWithoutWalls, a think tank designed to create innovations at the intersection of law, business, and technology. She is also a guest faculty member at Harvard Law School’s Executive Education program and the author of the newly released book Legal Upheaval: A Guide to Creativity, Collaboration and Innovation (American Bar Association, 2018).

Ari asks Michele about the book, changes in the profession, and who will lead the way in innovation – law firms or in-house legal teams?

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