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Peppermint twist – new legal services platform based on Microsoft CRM Dynamics

Peppermint Technology – – which claims to be the first major new software entrant to the UK legal market in over a decade, today announced it is working in partnership with Microsoft to develop a UK cloud-based Legal Services Platform (LSP) for law firms.

The Legal Services Platform is designed to give multiple stakeholders in the legal community access to information and services anytime, anywhere. The platform will enable firms to deliver consistent and integrated legal services directly to customers, referrers, business partners and fee earners from any device, at any time. The platform will provide law firms, and legal service companies, with a suite of business tools to quickly create, deliver and manage innovative legal services. Designed around a customer centric business model the platform, say Peppermint, goes beyond the limitations of traditional case and practice management solutions. Already in development, the platform will be released on a modular basis with the first module available in March 2011 while the complete platform is planned for Q4 2011.

The Peppermint announcement goes on to say… Law firms are complex operations facing increased competition from all directions. The Legal Services Platform is designed to provide firms with the tools they need to respond to this challenge. Designed with input from law firms, the workflow driven platform delivers back office functionality such as case management, reporting, finance, accounts, performance management, time recording, billing and business intelligence. The platform extends these services to users outside the firm, thus improving efficiency, reducing costs and providing a much improved customer experience. The service is accessed online and billed monthly based on the number of users therefore providing affordability, predictability and flexibility. There is no upfront license fee or hardware to buy.

Arlene Adams, co-founder of the business said “We started the business because a team of us shared the frustration that existing suppliers were not investing in new technology at a time when legal firms are crying out for new services to help them compete. The legal market has lagged behind other industries and we saw the opportunity to bring to market a fresh approach combined with technology innovation. We canvassed the market and found huge support from firms frustrated by the lack of innovation available during this time of market change”. She added “Our mission is simple. We want to work with firms in a symbiotic relationship to build software that allows them to outperform. We handpicked the best talent from the legal market to form a great team. We have every confidence that a combination of our people, our technology and our fresh approach to working with clients will set us apart in this market.”

In selecting Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 as the foundation development platform, Peppermint Technology will deliver a customer centric platform offering true seamless interoperability with firm-wide applications, such as Microsoft Windows, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Office, Microsoft SharePoint and, uniquely in the UK legal market, Microsoft’s CRM application. The application intelligently links and contextualises data thus allowing powerful management reporting and automated workflow which will help firms deliver improved services and manage risk. The choice of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 reflects the demands of the Legal Services Act which is pushing firms to focus on a customer centric approach to systems over traditional back office ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems that have proven cumbersome, costly and in many cases provided little return on investment.

“We are pleased to be working in partnership with Peppermint Technology, one of a few ISV Partners involved in the Microsoft early adopter’s programme for Dynamics CRM 2011, to deliver a platform that will help firms prepare for the full impact of the Legal Services Act. The new platform will provide legal firms a step change in how they interact and service their customers giving them the chance to outperform against the competition” said Steve Morrow, Director Microsoft Dynamics UK. He added, “By bringing together the depth of legal knowledge in the Peppermint team with Microsoft's technology expertise and products, we are confident this platform will challenge the status quo of the UK legal market.”

Peppermint Technology is backed by OLM Group and co-founder Peter O’Hara who commented “We are very fortunate to have selected such a strong team of legal industry experts who share a massive passion to make a difference. The evidence exists to suggest the market wants Peppermint Technology to succeed. Even before we launch the platform we have signed a number of major firms as customers due to the fact we are listening and investing. I think this is an approach many more firms will embrace”.

Comment: We know they have signed up some firms but we can't disclose their identities yet. Otherwise, is this the new normal for legal IT vendors – build a legal skin on top of a Microsoft platform?

17 replies on “Peppermint twist – new legal services platform based on Microsoft CRM Dynamics”

Where does this leave LexisNexis and their recently announced Microsoft Dynamics based product which everyone was so excited about before Christmas?

Of course it is the new norm – with the exception of Document Management Systems of course, where only the old ones will do – and it has been this way in many other markets for some considerable time.

Looks like LexisNexis may have been wrong-footed on the PR front… However, Arlene's hertitage is with Iris so one might suspect this is a solution for very small law firms? Lexis will likely operate in the mid-market.
Good name though – perhaps the boys at LexisNexis should call their Microsoft product 'Spearmint'? No…let's not go there…
With all these firms now basing their offerings on Microsoft products, one wonders how they will make the kind of money they would have done as software authors.

not just Arlene is ex Iris! Nice to see the development team who had their jobs outsourced to India have found gainful employment! Well done chaps!!!!!!

I'll bet it wont be recording time either, perhaps it will work well for firms looking to provide legal services for free?

Hmm, it appears the intelligence of visitors to this site is waning somewhat. Betting on what the first module won't be when a quick visit to the web site would allow you to easily establish what the first module is doesn't really do much for your credibility or intellect. Or you could be trying to be ironic, either way you failed …..

Dynamics CRM is a platform, a base to allow the rapid and efficient development of specificity targeted solutions.
So I don't know why you think that Billing or Time Recording would be difficult to implement. It requires the same analysis and design as it would if you were developing it anywhere, but the implementation is orders of magnitude quicker.
From your comments I can only assume that you don't know what the capabilities of Dynamics CRM are. At the end of they day, Time Recording is a set of rules defining a business process with data being stored in a back end somewhere, accessed with either some UI or automation. Dynamics CRM is quite capable of doing that I assure you!

“With all these firms now basing their
offerings on Microsoft products , one
wonders how they will make the kind of
money they would have done as software
There is an interesting point to think about here.
You imply that a software house using a third party platform to develop on won't make as much money as one that did everything themselves from scratch.
True; the cost of licenses had to be baked in somewhere when using any third party software but you have to remember that developing your own software completely from scratch requires a vast expenditure of money and time, it certainly isn't free.
You would spend years and buckets full of money trying to implement a similar platform to build on, when it is much more beneficial to spend those resources adding domain specific functionality to an existing platform like Dynamics CRM or SharePoint.
You could quite easily take what I quoted from you and say instead “Peppermint saves hundreds of thousands of pounds a year by using Microsoft Dynamics CRM”

It will be a long, winding and expensive road. Early adopters will have to be very brave – and very patient.

And that statement is based on what evidence? I'll tell you what it is not based on, previous experience Of implementing crm 2011 solutions.

The 2011 platform was only released recently, so early adopters will need to be careful, as is the case with any new software version. I agree generally that this is a wait and see situation. Their website looks great – very touchy feely but it seems the only actual product they have right now is an extranet portal which I can only imagine is just a custom SharePoint deployment?
The solution sounds like the holy grail. One fully integrated solution across financial, practice management, document management, extranet, CRM. One would hope that they've already completed all of the development of this 'uberapp' and have an army of testers hammering the solution today if they expect to meet their Q4 release schedule for the entire app.

Trying to spread FUD already?
Another benefit of using Dynamics CRM of course is that firms are investing in a product that benefits from thousands of hours of development and testing by Microsoft in its core area.

The portal has had the same fanatical attention paid to both the user experience and it's underlying platform, I think it will surprise many who have yet to see it.

looking forward to it – can you share a couple of screenshots in this post?

Well good luck to them. Lets face it, it is good to have a fresh entrant into the market place. if nothing else it might make the existing suppliers less complacent, and in some cases give them a well needed kick to get on with product development.
Whilst the company are new, a lot of the people behind the scences come with a reputation for integrity so I see no reason why they should not deliver, and at least the development platform has sound basis.

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