Last week Aderant announced that it had hired Doug Geller, the founder of Geller Data Solutions Inc, to head up its StarLaw DMS business. Today it used the start of this week's ILTA Rev-Elation event as the opportunity to announce two new acquisitions CompuLaw (and its subsidiary Deadlines.com) and Client Profiles (including its CRM4Legal division).

Comment: The full text of the release can be found below however here is our comment as we think this announcement will actually have a more significant impact upon the future of the mainstream legal software market than either the Microsoft volte-face or the HP acquisition of Autonomy, not least as these acquisitions create the world’s largest independent legal software company. As Aderant point out, it will “give their customers worldwide access to a suite of products and services that will help them manage, grow, and protect their businesses. The company’s offerings will be the industry’s most complete suite of firm management software and services including: business development, client relationship management (CRM), practice and financial management, time and billing, case management, document management, automated court rules-based calendaring, and business intelligence.”

The CompuLaw side of the deal really needs no further explanation. Great company, with a great product that delivers genuine benefit to law firms operating in the United States, not just in terms of business efficiency and convenience but also as a risk management tool. As for Client Profiles… well this is where it gets interesting. The case management part of the business is another excellent operation, with an obvious synergy with CompuLaw and taking Aderant into a wider sector of the market that it has previously operated.

And then there is CRM4Legal, the company's Microsoft CRM Dynamics-based client relationship management system. This is another excellent product but one which internationally has not enjoyed the success it deserves, primarily because of difficulties and a run of bad luck with its channel partners. The Aderant deal changes all this. Now the product has a global legal software provider with a blue-chip customer-base and a global route to market, thereby almost instantly giving CRM4Legal better reach, scalability and credibility as a global CRM platform.

More importantly still, the move comes at a time when business development is now firmly on the agenda of all serious (as distinct from sunset) law firms (particularly given the threat of alternative legal service providers in some jurisdictions) and at a time when the one-time market leader in the legal CRM market – LexisNexis Interaction – is starting to show signs of losing its way. The company has fallen out with some of its business partners… there are executives within LexisNexis saying the product needs to be redeveloped on the Microsoft CRM Dynamics… and increasingly we are hearing of other CRM products (including CRM4Legal, Sugar CRM and Salesforce.com) making it on to law firm's short-lists whereas even two years ago Interaction would have had a free ride.

The Tikit Group (also present at ILTA) has already thrown its CRM hat into the ring with its own alternative product ClientConnect – and now we have Aderant entering the fray. This is bad news for LexisNexis. This is also bad news for Thomson Reuters who now really need to get their Hubbard One act together and give it the clout it deserves, otherwise they could see Aderant CRM4Legal becoming the CRM of choice for Elite 3E users. And it is a mixed blessing for Tikit, who now have a serious contender to their new product – although it does also mean there are now two viable alternatives to living on Planet LexisNexis Interaction.

As for Aderant? Well win, win all round. Greatly enhanced product set – and in a world where consolidation is the name of the game in the legal IT sector, the company is clearly drawing a line in the sand and saying: we are one of the big beasts in this market and we are here to stay. The fact that a VC-owned company is making acquisitions (as opposed to cutting costs to try to make a fast return and exit on their investment) only adds to Aderant's longer-term credibility. And, it is worth noting, that Aderant is one of the few big players in the legal IT space that is a software provider and not primarily a content provider.

Interesting times and it will be hard to see how anyone tops this story at ILTA this week. Now here's the rest of the formal announcement…

“With these acquisitions, Aderant is building on its commitment to deliver world-class products and services that empower law and professional services firms to operate more effectively and profitably. To that end, Atlanta-based Client Profiles brings products in CRM and case management to Aderant, while Los Angeles-based CompuLaw and subsidiary company Deadlines.com provide powerful risk management tools for firms of all sizes. Included as part of the transaction are CompuLaw’s well-known court rules-based calendar and matter management system, the SaaS-based legal deadline calculation service, and the largest and most comprehensive library of rules databases for any existing legal calendaring application with databases for nearly 2000 jurisdictions and all 50 states. CompuLaw is known as a pioneer within the legal calendaring space, while Client Profiles is recognized for its expertise in case management services for small-sized firms.

Our goal at Aderant is to be the go-to software and services partner for law and professional services firms worldwide,” says CEO Chris Giglio. “By expanding our product family with proven systems from CompuLaw and Client Profiles – two well-respected leaders in the industry – we’re strengthening our brand, bringing our clients the broadest set of capabilities, delivering the best technology in the industry, and ensuring we maintain the highest level of client satisfaction – all through the seamless integration of our offerings.”

Nearly 2500 law and professional services firms around the world, including more than 60% of the AmLaw 200, benefit from Aderant’s complete suite of business management software systems. Following the acquisitions, Aderant will have clients encompassing nearly every segment of the legal market and will offer products for each segment’s unique needs. Giglio will continue as Aderants chief executive officer. David J. Kalmick, president & chief executive officer of CompuLaw, will serve as Vice President of Aderant CompuLaw, and Whit McIsaac, Client Profiles’ chief executive officer, will be Vice President of Business Development.

“We purchased Aderant in 2008 with the intent to create the strongest software company for the legal and professional services market, and with the addition of CompuLaw and Client Profiles, we have taken a big step toward making Aderant the premier provider in this space,” said Robert F. Smith, chairman of the board of Aderant (and chairman & chief executive officer of Vista Equity Partners). “Moving forward, we will continue to invest in Aderant and its acquired product lines to make it an even more formidable company in the market.”

 
Nearly three decades ago, CompuLaw, whose clients include more than 70% of the AmLaw 100, created the market for automated court rules-based calendaring software for mid to large-sized law firms. Its web-based Deadlines.com brings malpractice risk management to smaller firms. “For more than 30 years, CompuLaw’s commitment to quality, reliability, and service has earned us an outstanding reputation in the industry,” said Kalmick. “Because both Aderant and CompuLaw have similar philosophies on quality and long-term customer satisfaction, joining the Aderant family makes perfect sense. We will now be able to deliver new products and services more quickly to our valued clients, bringing unprecedented product reliability and comprehensive practice protection to the market.”

“Client Profiles is thrilled about coming together with Aderant and CompuLaw,” said McIsaac. “Client Profiles wanted to grow larger and stronger to capitalize on the opportunities that we have worked so hard to develop in the marketplace, and this transition will enable us to do that. Aderant gives us immediate scalability and its strengths are a perfect complement to our business model, our products, and our services. Existing clients will benefit from new product developments and enhanced services resulting from the depth and breadth of the Aderant organization. This is one of the most exciting changes in the legal technology space in a long time, and we are looking forward to the future that can be built on this platform.”