As we move into a new year, I’d like to reflect on 2014 for Elevate, assess market predictions I made a year ago, and share my thoughts on the year ahead.
We are passionate about client service so we were thrilled by our clients’ accomplishments, which made 2014 an exciting year for them and us:
- Matthew Fawcett, GC of NetApp, was named one of America’s 50 Outstanding General Counsel by National Law Journal
- NetApp’s legal department was named to the InsideCounsel IC10 list for the second year in a row
- NetApp was named Best Legal Department by The Recorder magazine
- NetApp was also named Best Legal Department by Corporate Counsel magazine
- NetApp was shortlisted for the FT Innovative Lawyers awards
- Shirley Lindberg of Perkins Coie was shortlisted by her law firm legal technology peers for ILTA’s Distinguished Peer Awards
We were also honored to receive some recognition ourselves.
- Both Kevin Colangelo, our VP Client Relations and Strategic Communications, and I were inducted as Fellows into the College of Law Practice Management. We would like to thank the legal sector leaders who nominated us. You know who you are.
- Elevate was ranked among the “Rising Stars” by the IAOP (International Association of Outsourcing Professionals), appearing in several categories:
Elevate now operates in four continents. We opened three new service delivery centers: Phoenix, Arizona in the US; Milton Park, (near Oxford) in the UK; and Manila in the Philippines. We also opened new offices in New York City and Sydney, Australia.
In 2014, we grew to 250 Associates worldwide, and we added several more legal sector veterans to our management team, including:
- James Odell, VP and Managing Director, Australia and Asia Pacific – previously COO, Australia and South East Asia at Baker & McKenzie
- Joeri Timp, VP and Managing Director, Philippines – previously Executive Director of Baker & McKenzie’s global service center in Manila
- Kevin Colangelo, VP Client Relations and Strategic Communications – previously Client Relations Officer at Proskauer Rose and before that one of the founding leadership team at Pangea3
- Jack Diggle, Director of Legal Business Solutions – previously Head of Strategy for Legal at Barclays
- Peter Eilhauer, Legal Spend Manager – previously Head of Spend Analytics and Vendor Management at global insurance company QBE
- Marilyn Primiano, Director of Litigation Services – previously Vice President Legal Services (Europe) at Pangea3
- Daniel Coll, VP Legal – previously Associate General Counsel at Oracle
I’m pleased to report that we exceeded our financial goals by a wide margin for the second year in a row, this time with total 2014 annual sales of $10.8 million (nearly three times 2013, which was our first full year in business), and finishing Q4 2014 at an annual sales run rate of $15 million. We are profitable, with no debt and over $2 million of cash to support further growth. I’d like to thank our CEO, Lokendra Tomar, and our CFO, Richard Little, for their stewardship in achieving these results.
During 2014 we expanded our relationship with all of our 2013 clients, and we launched several significant new client relationships, including several global law firms, and the legal departments of several well-known technology, life sciences, retail, and insurance companies.
An example of a new 2014 relationship was our engagement with leading global mining and metals company Rio Tinto. Their legal department had previously worked with an India-based LPO provider, but Rio Tinto was looking to ‘Elevate’ the support of their lawyers and the business ‘to the next level’. After an extensive assessment of legal service providers and a comprehensive pilot, Rio Tinto successfully transitioned a broad range of legal services such as contracts and litigation to Elevate. We now provide multi-language support to Rio Tinto lawyers around the globe from our service delivery centers in Gurgaon (Delhi), India, Milton Park (Oxford), UK and Phoenix, Arizona.
Adoption of our Cael suite of technologies (Cael LPM, Cael Vision and Cael Select) accelerated during 2014. Legal departments are using Cael apps to analyze outside spend, to standardize the way they select outside counsel, and to project manage the matters being delivered by outside counsel to avoid budget surprises. Law firms are using Cael apps to improve how they price, to standardize the way they bid on and win work, and to project manage matters for improved profitability, efficiency and client satisfaction.
For law firm project management initiatives, Cael LPM has been the right product in the right place at the right time. Some law firms, such as Gowlings, have placed project management squarely at the center of their client service delivery model.
2014 Prediction Check
I’d like to review the predictions about the legal sector I made one year ago and see how accurate they proved to be.
- I predicted Legal Project Management would gain momentum beyond the early adopter firms, driven by client expectations for budget predictability and improved efficiency, and enabled by technology. We have seen this to be the case, as adoption of our supporting technology Cael LPM™ grew in North America, Europe and Australia, and we’ve witnessed heightened interest in LPM throughout the legal sector.
- I predicted that by the end of 2014, the label ‘alternative legal service provider’ would start to drop its ‘alternative’ descriptor. There is some discussion amongst legal sector consultants and analysts about the different service and business models, e.g. “NewLaw versus BigLaw”. I personally think the primary value of that discussion is to highlight the fact that the legal services world has evolved beyond in-house counsel buying services strictly from law firms. Simply put, companies buy legal services from legal service providers, which may be law firms, LPOs, legal staffing companies, etc. A recent blog post by George Beaton provides a good taxonomy of the ecosystem of legal service providers.
- Lastly, I predicted that the most successful inside-outside counsel relationships would increasingly emphasize objective definitions and empirical measures of the value of legal services. We’ve seen an acceleration of legal department use of technology and consulting solutions that help them gather, analyze and report this kind of data, which they increasingly use to manage outside counsel relationships. This was particularly noticeable in some sessions I attended at the 2014 ACC Annual Meeting. It was the reason behind Elevate’s launch of our own Cael Vision technology for outside counsel spend analytics, and (I believe) the driver for the recent Huron acquisition of Sky Analytics and the Tymetrix acquisition of Datacert.
- The use of data analytics will proliferate in corporate legal departments, providing in-house legal management greater insight into legal spend, with benchmarking and like-for-like rate comparisons of outside counsel firms. Progressive law firms that use analytics to inform and improve pricing will be rewarded, while those that don’t will struggle.
- The adoption of legal project management technology will continue to grow. Users will seek technology that makes LPM easier, and firms will increasingly see project management as a fundamental capability to successfully deliver price and profitability.
- Uncertainty about the future of law firms will continue to fuel law firm consulting activity around “efficiency offerings”, ranging from process improvement, technology and support services to “the three P’s” – pricing, profitability and project management.
The Cambrian explosion of innovation in the legal marketplace affords great opportunity, but we are mindful that one thing matters above all else. Without it, our innovations alone go nowhere. That one thing is client service, and it remains our top priority for the year ahead.