Elite’s London Summit: Key takeaways and an interview with new CEO Mark Dorman

Here are the key takeaways from an interview with Elite Technology’s new CEO Mark Dorman and head of product Elisabet Hardy, plus the highlights of an industry experts briefing.

It was an energised crowd that attended Elite Technology’s first London summit following its acquisition by TPG from Thomson Reuters, although a crowd with, inevitably, a lot of questions, both in terms of the product roadmap, and the future direction of the now private equity-owned company itself.  

With the acquisition having formally completed only at the start of June, the summit at the end of June was a fairly rapidly assembled affair intended to provide much-needed immediate insights into Elite’s strategy and portfolio vision.  

The message from Elite, if you could distil a whole day of content into two words, was ‘we’re back’. But what does that really mean in practice? 

The CEO interview 

During the conference I spoke with new CEO Mark Dorman and head of product Elisabet Hardy about what customers can expect under Elite’s new private equity ownership, including some key points around its product strategy. 

As a quick recap, TPG is a global alternative asset management firm founded in San Francisco in 1992, with around $135bn of assets under management. Its other fairly recent acquisitions in the tech space include the 2021 purchase (with Francisco Partners) of Boomi from Dell – a deal that TechCrunch observed at the time saw Boomi go from being part of a large amorphous corporation to becoming absorbed in the machinery of two private equity firms, commenting at the time, “What happens next is hard to say.” 

With Elite, TPG has extracted a company that has struggled to function effectively post-restructure and has lost ground to rivals such as Aderant and Fulcrum Global Technologies. Its acquisition has drawn comparisons with document management leader iManage, which before its exit from HP was floundering. However, that was a management buyout, and the big question here is, will TPG provide much-needed investment, or look to make a quick sale? 

According to Dorman, it’s very much the former. “They are a growth equity fund, and they look for businesses with an opportunity to grow but that need new investment,” says Dorman, who over the last two decades has held roles including head of strategy at LexisNexis UK and president and CEO at Wolters Kluwer Law & Business. In more recent years, Dorman was appointed by the new PE owners of McGraw-Hill Education to transform the business and turn a legacy book publisher into a ‘digital first’ company. His last role before joining Elite was as CEO of London Stock Exchange-listed STEM recruitment firm SThree – at the end of 2021 he resigned after a record financial year due to personal reasons. 

Dorman observes that what TPG saw in Elite was a leader in a market that is undergoing digital transformation. “The law firm market is lagging other sectors but there has been more adoption of technology in the last five years than there has in the last 10,” he said. The focus now is on continuing with product innovation and supporting customers.  

One question that customers have is around Elite’s cloud strategy, given that much of its product development centres on its cloud offering, but the majority of its clients are still on premises, and with no intention to change that any time soon. 

“The future is in the cloud,” says Dorman, “that is not a revelation, because of the benefits, including the fact that we are responsible for upgrades.” Rapid development means that customers will find they can do more in the cloud than on premises, but Dorman says: “Each firm will have their own journey, and we are cognisant of the need to provide the right service and support them, so they have help at their own pace and move when they are ready.” 

The timeframe for transitioning to the cloud is not going to be fixed, Dorman says. However, he adds: “I suspect that the old Bill Gates quote is applicable here – things never go as fast as you’d like but when you look back, they have gone further than you thought possible. Over the next five years we will see much faster adoption, and most of the capability that firms want will require them to be in the cloud.” 

No conversation about a roadmap would be complete these days without touching on generative AI, but Dorman sounds a note of caution here, commenting: “Everyone thinks that LLMs are going to take over the world but we’re not there yet, we’re at the very start of the process. Think about the internet in the 90s, the possibilities are infinite, but it takes careful thought,” he said, adding, “We have started the process.” 

Hardy, who announced her new head of product role in mid-June, adds: “It’s about finding the areas within the business process that run through the platform and finding those points that are very laborious and error prone.” This might include using generative AI to reduce the possibility of mistakes in billing narratives.   

Caution is a good thing but Elite needs to be careful of leaning on the fact that it is only a few weeks old. The issue it has is that the market wants to run, and the competition is well established and hungry.

Elite’s openness to discussing its future direction is certainly winning favour. Hardy says: “We’ll be asking users where to put our strategic focus. We want to partner with customers, not just on what to build next, but where to focus more generally. If it’s not important to them, it’s not important to us. Some problems are not ones for us to solve, and we need to figure that out.” 

One bit of immediate feedback is that customers and consultants are hoping that Elite is more open to integrating with other vendors. While Thomson Reuters Elite in theory had an open API culture, feedback from the market is that this wasn’t the case in practice, and the hope is that the new corporate entity will come with a change of culture.

The industry experts briefing 

This was a point revisited at an industry experts’ briefing, where the Elite executive, including Dorman and Hardy, plus head of global support Patrick Hurley and sales director Duncan Hannigan asked a room of circa 20 people for their honest feedback on all things Elite. 

The cloud theme came up strongly: there is nervousness among Elite’s customers around being forced to move to the cloud, but also a worry that there will be increasing divergence between Elite’s cloud versus legacy offerings. 

Transformation consultant Alex Young, founder and director of Alblair Consulting, made this point during the briefing and told me afterwards: “The biggest worry for existing clients is that some of the new modules and integration technology are only available in the cloud. Using those products would be fantastic but clients who are not using Elite in the cloud and have already invested millions won’t easily be able to take advantage of the newer stuff.”

He adds: “Whilst eventual adoption of cloud is inevitable, moving their practice management system to the cloud is not top of mind for a lot of law firms; frankly it’s a pain and costs more than they want to spend.”

Dorman and the senior Elite team repeated the promise that they don’t plan to force anyone to move – they will respect customers investment and help them to transition in their own time. However, they pointed out that whereas four years ago Thomson Reuters Elite was talking about getting one cloud customer, they now have over 60, and the anticipation is that it won’t be long before even large firms are prepared to make the change. 

One important question asked during the briefing was when Elite plans to move out of the Thomson Reuters cloud. Elite has taken a new tenancy and it is anticipated that it will move its customers over in late summer or early fall, after implementing all relevant security procedures. However, this timeframe seems very ambitious. 

Another question mark hangs over the future of case management system MatterSphere. MatterSphere will continue to be supported but is not viable for a multi-tenant cloud environment and never took hold in the US. The Elite leadership are questioning whether to go back to the drawing board on case management or do something different in the United States. For firms and consultants wanting to know what the future holds, there is little in the way of reassurance.


Elite’s desire to engage with users and industry experts is commendable. Young told me: “Elite’s approach is refreshing, and they seem to be far more open to ideas than they have been in the past.”

What is needed, without wishing to state the obvious, is for the feedback to actioned, and Young said: “On their product roadmap they clearly want to talk to customers but whatever innovations they have need to be followed up with their services team and partners so that a clear path to help clients explore and make use of the new advances is evident. This has not always been the case.”