Litera has acquired document drafting rival DocsCorp, in an acquisition that dramatically accelerates Litera’s platformisation play and brings the three main legal document productivity vendors under one roof, following Litera’s acquisition of Workshare in 2019.
DocsCorp will sit in Litera’s drafting business unit headed by managing director Jody Cosgrove, and all of the DocsCorp staff are joining Litera, including DocsCorp founder and CEO Dean Sappey.
While Litera and DocsCorp were historically bitter rivals, things have thawed since a change of guard in 2016/17, when Litera was acquired by private equity house K1, which merged together Microsystems, XRef, Litera and the Sackett Group. K1 sold to Hg in 2019, since when the company has acquired Doxly (transaction management); Foundation Software Group (law firm intelligence); Allegory Law (litigation management); and Bestpractix (contract drafting).
Speaking to Legal IT Insider, Litera’s CEO Avaneesh Marwaha, who was previously president at Microsystems, said:
“Dean and I have chatted over the years but never seriously until the opportunity came up recently. We have always had an interest in DocsCorp: we’re looking to grow our geographical presence and product base and Dean and DocsCorp have great solutions and products, so it feels good to bring them together for all our customers to engage with.”
“We’re bringing together all of our technology so that customers have a whole suite of applications to choose from and don’t have to decide which vendor to go with. Right now, one vendor has that, and the other has this, and we’ve talked for years about bringing things together, but things have happened quickly because the timing was right, and it was too good an opportunity to miss.” Sappey said that DocsCorp has also been talking to other vendors “interested in doing similar things” but said: “There wasn’t the synergy, and it didn’t make as much sense as it has evolved.”
The two companies have little geographical overlap aside from in London.
The combined business has 15,000 customers: Litera has 10,000 and DocsCorp around 5,000. It will cover the US, UK and EMEA, India and Australia. The combined business will grow from 400 globally to just north of 500.
According to Marwaha, the first priority is to
“focus on customers and giving them a better experience globally.”
Litera will be looking at opportunities to cross-sell their products, including bringing DocsCorp’s PDF and binder capability into the Litera fold and Litera’s transaction and litigation management platforms to DocsCorp’s customers.
While there is overlap in product categories and products such as compareDocs and Workshare Compare, Sappey said:
“Even our products that on paper do the same thing are very different. Litera has been successful with top 100 firms but their requirements are very different to smaller firms and we can offer that choice depending on what their needs are.”
DocsCorp has made significant inroads in Europe and Sappey said: “Firms work differently in different countries. They work very differently in France or Germany, and it’s really important that the software operates in French or German, and that’s a real differentiation.”
The acquisition represents a complete U-turn on Litera’s stance under the helm of founder Deepak Massand, who took legal action against both DocsCorp and Workshare for patent infringement. However, Sappey said:
“The culture is very different now, and the personalities involved are not there anymore.”
For customers, Marwaha and Sappey say the acquisition means they will still have complete choice over what they subscribe for.
“We try to help guide customers in a certain category or type and say, “This is what we’re seeing across your segment size” and help them to mirror that. But we have plenty of customers that have a single product,” Marwaha said.
Due to the confidential nature of the discussions, clients largely haven’t been consulted on the acquisition, and while many will welcome having greater choice under one roof, some might be concerned over the lack of competition in the market. Marwaha said:
“We are routinely seeing new start-ups with great UI and even better UX and we are focused on driving value and really good products to our customers.”
In a release out today (31 March) Marwaha says:
“We constantly listen to our clients to understand their needs and they expect us to drive digital transformation for legal teams through a comprehensive, unified desktop experience. This acquisition delivers on that expectation.”