Huron Consulting Group sells Huron Legal to Consilio as eDiscovery consolidation gathers pace

Huron Consulting Group has divested Huron Legal to eDiscovery and document review provider Consilio, as the trend towards consolidation within the eDiscovery market gathers pace in the face of client demand for a more globalised offering.

Consilio, which in August announced a new partnership with Los Angeles-based private equity firm Shamrock Capital Advisers, has offices throughout Europe and in Hong Kong and Tokyo, with a far more limited reach in the US, albeit it has offices in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, where it is headquartered.

Meanwhile Huron Legal, a 450-staff operation which provides eDiscovery, document review, information governance and compliance and legal analytics to private practice firms and corporate legal teams, has operations primarily in the US. It has offices in Chicago, Charlotte, Raleigh, Miramar, New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Houston, with international offices in Gurgaon, India, and London, where there are 25 members of staff.

The combined organisation will become one of the largest global eDiscovery, document review and legal consulting service providers.

Huron Legal will move lock stock and barrel across to Consilio, taking with it its Relativity accreditation from kCura.

The acquisition comes as large corporates increasingly look to one provider for all of their eDiscovery needs, meaning existing providers are under huge pressure to globalise their offering.

It follows the announcement at the start of December that Consilio had acquired UK-based Proven Legal Technologies, an edisclosure and forensic consulting services provider and Relativity premium-hosting partner. Commenting on that acquisition, leading litigation support consultant Andrew Haslam said: “One of my SCL [Society for Computers and Law] predictions for 2016 was a further consolidation of the marketplace. There are a lot of drivers here other than the Schrems ruling. To my knowledge there are roughly 30 large US eDiscovery firms who want to expand. They have quickly found 1) You can’t transplant your US employees over here (work visas all gone), 2) You can’t buy significant quantities of UK people (limited pool, most locked into current firms), 3) Organic growth is slow, though possible (both IRIS and Lighthouse have gone down this route). What’s left? Buy an existing firm. What’s the long term strategy of most UK eDisclosure suppliers? Hit the jackpot and be bought by a US firm.”

In this case it is VC-backed Consilio that has the appetite for expansion, although both Consilio and Huron’s management focussed on the benefits of global scale that the acquisition will bring.

“We have tremendous respect for Consilio, and, upon closing, the combination of the two businesses will create an organization with impressive global scale and an incredible team of experts who can support the wide-ranging and complex issues facing the legal industry,” said James Roth, Huron Consulting’s president and chief executive officer.

Andy Macdonald, Consilio’s CEO (pictured on the home page) said: “The acquisition of Huron Legal aligns with our strategy to create greater scale, which enables us to broaden our geographic coverage, enhance our technology offerings, and deliver more efficient solutions to our clients.

“The strength and depth of its team in the U.S. market combined with our considerable global capabilities will be a significant benefit to our multinational client base.”

Speaking to Legal IT Insider, Huron Legal’s Senior Director of UK Client Services Jonathan Maas said: “Huron Legal has a strong US client base and less so outside, while Consilio has not such an impressive US base but is very strong in Europe and Asia Pacific. Almost overnight we have created a company with a global reach and very little overlap, which makes for a very powerful combination and one that personally I’m really excited about.”

The transaction is expected to close by December 31st 2015, followed by an integration period of several quarters as the two businesses align systems and processes.