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Breaking news: HBR Consulting acquires Keno Kozie to form 700+ legal tech advisory team

HBR Consulting has acquired Keno Kozie Associates, we can reveal, in a move that will form the largest technology consulting firm in the sector, with over 700 legal professionals.

The acquisition is in response to the recent growth and anticipated further growth in the need for legal technology advice and support, plus the managed services that HBR and Keno Kozie have already been collaborating on. Keno Kozie, which is best known for its helpdesk outsourcing capability, will increase the scale and flexibility of HBR’s managed services –– including IT, procurement, and research and information (library) services.

Speaking to Legal IT insider, HBR’s executive chairman, former CEO Chris Petrini-Poli, who has been leading the acquisition for HBR alongside incumbent CEO Nick Quil, said: “We’ve been working with Keno Kozie a long time and have alignment on client strategy. We have built our IT managed services offering leveraging their managed helpdesk, so this acquisition is a natural evolution.” HBR has been building its managed services client base over the past few years, including multi-year deals with international firms such as DLA Piper and Shearman & Sterling, although Keno Kozie is not involved in those deals.

In terms of the Keno Kozie executive, Petrini-Poli said: “We’re keeping the entire team. Barry Keno and Jay Kozie will remain in very similar roles. We’re keeping the Keno Kozie name for the time being. It will be ‘Keno Kozie, part of the HBR family.’ Clients and partners know that we’ve been operating together and sharing resources and goals for a long time, and it’s important to keep the leadership in place.”

The plan is to grow the combined organisation by a fairly astonishing 100 consultants a year. Petrini-Poli referenced the flight to technology across all parts of the legal sector, which HBR is being asked to advise and assist with. He said: “We believe that technology is going to shape all legal practices: the flavour of that you can argue about, but whether the Am Law 100 will be impacted is not a debate, and that applies to corporate legal departments too. Law schools need to be thoughtful about how they are training their people and we’re looking at the whole ecosystem. Private equity and venture capital are investing multiple billions and law firms are investing their capital too. We are getting pulled across by organisations that are looking for help on how to sort through all of these things.”

While law firms rowed back on the move to outsource their procurement and IT functions after the turn of the century, there is once again an appetite to outsource their critical back office functions. Last year HBR announced that DLA Piper US had entered into a five-year managed services agreement, under which HBR took over some of its back-office functions and four DLA employees moved to HBR. This deal followed a three-year procurement deal with US white shoe elite firm Shearman & Sterling in 2013, under which staff also moved to HBR.

Petrini-Poli told us: “Our managed services offering gets the back office off our clients’ plate. It shifts the burden from the firm and allows them to focus on the stuff that really has an impact. Law departments have similar issues, and we are helping them to understand the tools available.”

The deal closed yesterday (1 March).

Watch out for our interview with Chris, coming up very soon on legaltechnology.com