As I usually do at this time of year, I’d like to share my reflections on 2015 for Elevate, review the market predictions I made last year, and make some new predictions for 2016.
We were thrilled by our clients’ achievements last year, namely:
- Google was named Innovative Law Department of the Year in ILTA’s Distinguished Peer Awards.
- NetApp won an Innovator Award from The Recorder.
- NetApp won an IACCM Innovation Award.
- NetApp won a Mitratech Rockstar Award.
- NetApp was named Legal Department of the Year for Data Security by The Recorder.
- Connie Brenton, Head of Legal Operations at NetApp, won an In-House Impact Award from The Recorder, and was also named Law Department Operations Manager of the Year by Legaltech News.
- NetApp won a Silver Award for “Best USA Legal Department in the Industrial & High Tech Sector” at the International Legal Alliance Summit & Awards.
- Matthew Fawcett, GC at NetApp, won a Corporate Counsel Award (in the Public Company over $1 Billion category) from the Silicon Valley Business Journal.
2015 was also an exciting year for Elevate honors and recognition:
- Chambers & Partners ranked Elevate among the top global legal service providers.
- The Los Angeles Business Journal ranked Elevate the 4th Fastest Growing Private Company on their annual Top 100 list. Our three-year revenue growth rate of 2,388 percent (not a typo) made Elevate the highest ranked professional services company on the list.
- Pratik Patel was named Consultant of the Year in the ILTA Distinguished Peer Awards.
- Elevate was a Finalist for Innovative Solution Provider of the Year by the ILTA Distinguished Peer Awards.
- Elevate was ranked among the “Rising Stars” by the IAOP (International Association of Outsourcing Professionals) for the second year in a row, in several sub-categories:
- Highest Rated in Size & Growth Category
- Best Rising Stars in Revenue Growth
- Best Rising Stars in Employee Growth
- Rising Stars in Number of Countries Worldwide
- Rising Star in Size Group 2015 Growth
In other news, we moved our facility in Gurgaon, India (near Delhi) into a new, larger space with better physical and logical information security. We expanded our facilities in Manila, Philippines and Oxford (UK) to support current client growth. And we plan to expand Phoenix, Arizona in 2016.
With lawyers, technologists, process specialists, project managers and legal operations consultants in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Continental Europe, India, Philippines and Australia, Elevate supports clients worldwide. We grew to 450 Associates globally (up from 250 in 2014) and continued to deepen our leadership and Subject Matter Expert team, including:
- Howard “Bud” Phillips, Chief Information Officer – previously CIO of law firm LeClairRyan
- Rick Learman, Chief Financial Officer – previously CFO of Varian Semiconductor Equipment, a $700 million business unit of Applied Materials, Inc.
- David Bard, VP Products and User Experience (for our Cael Apps suite) – previously Head of UX for Thomson Reuters Elite and Serengeti
For the third year in a row, we experienced rapid growth, finishing another profitable year in 2015 with revenue of approximately $21.5 million (up from $10.8 million in 2014) and finishing Q4 2015 at an over $24m run rate. We have no debt, over $2 million cash, and a $3 million bank line of credit to fund further growth.
Our relationships with our anchor clients continued to expand in 2015. We added several new multi-year managed services and consulting contracts with law firms and corporate legal departments representing global financial services, technology, life sciences, and manufacturing sectors.
Use of our Cael apps suite grew with many new law firms implementing our project management software, Cael LPM, and many legal departments implementing our GC metrics dashboard software, Cael Vision.
2015 Prediction Check
Let’s review my predictions from last year and see how accurate they were…
- I predicted the use of data analytics would proliferate in corporate legal departments, providing in-house legal department management with greater insight into legal spend. 2015 definitely saw an uptick in the number of legal departments using data analytics, including pioneers (and Elevate clients!) Google, NetApp, and Flex.
- I predicted that the adoption of legal project management technology would continue to grow, to the point that it would begin to be treated as a fundamental capability. I also predicted that some progressive law firms would use analytics to inform and improve pricing. While LPM and Pricing haven’t become ‘business as usual’ just yet, they have grown substantially, with no signs of slowing down. For example, half of UK law firms plan to use or adopt legal project management within the next two years.
- I predicted law firm activity around “Efficiency Offerings” would increase, ranging from process improvement, technology and support services to pricing, profitability and project management. This was even more true than I expected, with many examples:
- Ashurst planned to double the size of their Glasgow base from 200 FTE to 400 FTE within 3 years;
- Herbert Smith Freehills hired the project management team from Berwin Leighton Paisner and opened a document review center in Perth, Australia, in addition to their center in Belfast, Ireland;
- Baker & McKenzie opened another global service center in Belfast, in addition to their center in Manila, Philippines;
- DLA opened a service center in Warsaw;
- Freshfields opened a service center in Manchester, as did Latham & Watkins;
- Eversheds expanded its Eversheds Consulting and Eversheds Agile contract lawyer business, as did Allen & Overy;
- DLA partnered with Lawyers on Demand to launch their contract lawyer capability, while Simmons & Simmons and Coors launched their own offerings;
- Eversheds launched its legal outsourcing business, Ignite, and landed its first major contract, taking on Communisis’ legal team;
- Littler launched a technology solution to deliver HR Compliance legal services, in partnership with NeotaLogic;
- and the list goes on…
I really must stop writing this part of my annual update, which invites emails of withering criticism, but here goes:
- Legal operations professionals will start to become the norm in Fortune 500 companies. Adoption of “Moneyball for Legal” will proliferate.
- Contract lifecycle management will become the new document review, in terms of pursuit of operational effectiveness, cost-efficiency, and proliferation of sophisticated technologies to support it. (Doc review and the vast marketplace of tools that support it won’t go away, it just won’t be the hottest topic on the minds of in-house counsel.)
- Law firms will continue to innovate. I know it’s fashionable to say the opposite, but I personally wouldn’t bet against them! “Legal Service Delivery” will start to become defined beyond “good lawyering”.
- There will continue to be noise and hype about the possibilities for artificial intelligence in legal, but few actual case studies of real applications in 2016. However, don’t be complacent – while less will happen in the next 5 years than we predict, more will happen in the next 10 years than we imagine. Elevate is certainly experimenting to figure out the right mix of robots and humans.
- There will be consolidation of legal service providers, as some entrepreneurs fatigue or as investors seek liquidity. Make sure you know who you will be doing business with in the future!
I’d also like to preview Elevate’s evolving brand message. We have come to think of ourselves as a “Legal Integrator” and sum ourselves up as:
Strategy. Operations. Technology. Talent. For Law.
Some clients have told me that they think of Elevate as “Accenture for Law”. I will take that as a compliment!
And finally, I’d like to thank all our clients who have trusted us with your business! And thank you to all the Elevate Associates who work hard to earn and keep that trust and who I am proud to call my colleagues.
Founder and Executive Chairman
“We have come to think of ourselves as a ‘Legal Integrator’ and sum up our capabilities as: