Analysis: Litera’s acquisition of BigSquare and its future plans for BI 

We look at how the acquisition fits in with Litera’s existing stable of companies and what the future roadmap of its BI products is. 

Litera last week (10 August) announced that it has acquired eight-people strong business intelligence provider BigSquare, leaving the market wondering how that fits in with previous acquisitions in the same space and what the future strategy for BI is at the US-headquartered legal technology giant. 

BigSquare provides business intelligence solutions to a raft of US Am Law firms including Davis Polk & Wardwell, Shearman & Sterling and Crowell & Moring.  

It supplies attorneys with dashboards to help them understand their own financial data and includes an application that enables end users to perform profitability analysis against a raft of different metrics across the firm.  

Litera has been steadily building up its BI capability with the acquisition of Clocktimizer in April 2021, and Prosperoware in January 2022. While there is little overlap with Clocktimizer, there is overlap with Prosperoware’s financial matter management solution Umbria, which is currently under strategic review by Litera. 

Pieter van der Hoeven, founder of BI provider Clocktimizer, who has moved into Litera’s M&A team, said of his former company: “We have some overlapping customers with BigSquare but while they do have some form of similar product, they don’t really. The real thing is that BigSquare tells me when customers have paid, and all the financial data that the attorney is facing. And then on the other hand we have this set of costs and how do we calculate profitability. What we really liked about BigSquare is that they are a true SaaS software that drives the business and it’s not a case of ‘we have a ton of consultants to do it for you to make up for a shortage in the technology.’”  

Clocktimizer tells you who is doing what based on attorney narratives and is typically not directly attorney facing. Van der Hoeven says: “BigSquare is numbers focussed where Clocktimizer is narrative focused. We don’t provide how many invoices have been sent and how much has been paid. We’ve had that request many times and wondered if we should go there and build the CFO dashboard. But then customers want the bells and whistles on what we already do.” 

Re Prosperoware, whereas Litera is heavily focused on CAM, which is its compliance; Microsoft Teams management; and document provisioning solution, the future of Umbria, which has had less traction in the market, appears less clear, and we await further clarification on next steps.

As far as the roadmap for integration of BigSquare going forward, van der Hoeven says: “There are a couple of things we’re looking at as we have with Clocktimizer and Foundation. We’ve improved the navigation so that if you have a matter page in Clocktimizer you can go to that same page in Foundation and you don’t have to enter it twice.” 

He adds: “The fear as a customer is that a product will be turned into a massive blob of melted products crammed in because someone made the enlightened decision to cram it into one at the expense of building new features. We have smart people who said, ‘What if you can seamlessly navigate between them in your own boat?’ It’s really smart. Where it makes sense to link up, that’s the integration part. If we can see that certain information would be helpful if ingested or iframed into Foundation, that’s the level of information we’ll be working on.” 

BigSquare already integrates with the like of Thomson Reuters Elite 3E and Aderant, and van der Hoeven says: “The technology is already there.” 

This is Litera’s 15th acquisition since 2019, and Legal IT Insider asked van der Hoeven if there is a point when Litera, which is backed by private equity group Hg, will have too much technology. “It depends on how you go about integration,” he said. “We’re finding products that are as complementary as we can find them. Will there ever be an end? I think we have a long way to go.”