Opus 2 acquires Bar Squared to sew up barrister-solicitor collaboration

Virtual dispute resolution platform Opus 2 has acquired chambers management software supplier Bar Squared, which is used by more than 240 chambers and 11,000 barristers and clerks worldwide. The acquisition aims to improve collaboration between solicitors and barrister in the run up to trial.

While many barristers worldwide already use the Opus 2 platform to collaborate with law firms and their clients, the acquisition enables the Opus 2 and Bar Squared teams to make this collaboration more seamless.

Speaking to Legal IT Insider, Opus 2 founder and executive chairman Graham Smith Bernal said: “We prefer to grow organically but this was a good opportunity to acquire a company that is not only in a similar space and delivering complimentary products, but one that has been developing their client offering in tandem with us, and really leveraging feedback from clients.”

Newly-appointed Opus 2 CEO Martin Coen, who was already a board adviser before he took on his current role, told us: “We’ve known Bar Squared a good few years. They weren’t for sale, but we were seeing more compelling reasons and talking to them about the opportunities together. They started to trust us enough to have a conversation.”

Bar Squared’s LEX iPhone application enables barristers to access company, contact and user information as well as diaries held on the LEX server. Coen added: “When a barrister starts working we can now make the experience of working with their law firm seamless.”

Barristers are self-employed and the Bar has traditionally been slow to adopt new technology, but Coen said that COVID has accelerated the pace of change, commenting: “In the past year the Bar has matured driven by the fact that barristers have to embrace technology.”

The Bar Squared team are all joining Opus 2 and Coen said that they will now work on their joint go to market strategy and proposition.

Opus 2 saw its UK turnover increase by just over 23% to £20.8m in the year ended March 2020 according to accounts filed for that period, with 2020/21 on course to grow by 30%.

The global shift to digital means that Opus 2 is in many cases now being used for collaboration at a much earlier stage, and to facilitate the end-to-end delivery of trials using video conferencing technology such as Zoom or BlueJeans. 

Talking about the results earlier in the year, Smith-Bernal said: “Even the most technophobe of general counsel are realising the need to go digital, so we’ve had a huge ramp up of cases because people can’t collaborate using traditional methods.”

In perhaps a hint of what was to come he added: “There used to be almost a void between barristers working on their own with hard copy documents that they would mark up and wouldn’t share at an early stage. A far greater consequence of working digitally is that teams have begun to work more collaboratively. People are sharing their insights as a team and our platform can facilitate that.”