BigHand has acquired PayneGroup to further strengthen its template management and metadata management offering in North America, bringing with it 700 US clients, albeit there is overlap with BigHand’s existing client base. PayneGroup’s founder Donna Payne, who has run the business for 25 years and was among the first to market with her metadata management solution, is to step away from the business.

PayneGroup follows BigHand’s acquisition in August of UK template management business Iphelion, and complements its existing template management solution “BigHand Create” – in the latest ILTA Technology Survey (2019) retained its status as the number one proprietary software for template management (custom/developed in house comes out on top). PayneGroup was fourth on that list of proprietary tech, preceded by Litera.

The PayneGroup team will join the BigHand team immediately, working from their existing Seattle office. Together the teams plan to meet with all Payne and existing BigHand clients in the coming weeks to continue with a client-led innovation strategy.

Speaking to Legal IT Insider, chief financial officer Sam Toulson said: “We’re buying PayneGroup to enhance our product suite and because of the increased market share it gives us. Both support staff and fee-earners are increasingly embracing template management as part of the drive towards greater efficiency.”

BigHand, which is backed by private equity house Bridgepoint, has long been on the acquisition path as it adds or strengthens key parts of the document creation workflow. In April 2018 it acquired business intelligence and pricing provider DW Reporting as part of a strategic drive to be at the front and centre of the back office support function.

Eric Wangler, president of BigHand North America, said in a statement: “We have seen a huge uptake of our template management solution in the past several years emphasizing the demand from the market for tools like this. Merging with PayneGroup means that we can support a greater audience and make bigger investments to support and enhance these products. Donna is very well known and respected in the industry for her expertise and strong client relationships, which was evidenced at the Annual ILTA Conference where she was named the recipient of the International Legal Technology Association’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award. We look forward to continuing to support PayneGroup’s clients to even higher standards than they have become accustomed to.”

Payne said: “When I decided to move on to the next chapter in my career, I wanted to ensure that our customers and employees would be well looked after. Following a thorough review of the market, BigHand became the obvious choice. Their reputation, infrastructure and experience reassure me that I am passing the business on to capable hands who can take the company to the next level. I would like to personally thank the people at PayneGroup, our loyal clients, partners and organizations such as Microsoft and ILTA.”

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.