"This will give our clients a clear advantage": Simmons acquires Wavelength
Following a wave of hires and fairly rapid growth at Wavelength, the legal engineering firm has been acquired by Simmons & Simmons, in what is one of the latest, albeit one of the more dramatic, developments as law firms focus on building or buying their own alternative delivery capability.
As part of Simmons & Simmons, Wavelength says it will introduce new services and solutions for clients around the globe, by utilising its diverse blend of legal, data, design and engineering skills drawn from in and outside the legal profession.
It follows the very recent surprise departure of chief scientific officer Ben Gardner for AstraZeneca. Gardner joined Wavelength in 2017 from Linklaters.
Wavelength, which was founded in 2016 by Peter Lee and Drew Winlaw, is just one of two dedicated legal engineering companies.
The other is Syke, which after Wavelength’s acquisition must see a fairly clear path for growth in terms of law firm clients, particularly given that the acquisition coincides with the dramatic increase in Libor repapering as contracts transition (and are amended) to incorporate alternative reference rates.
Syke founder Alistair Maiden told Legal IT Insider: “This is a great move for Simmons. Pete and Drew would be an asset to any law firm, and it will be really interesting to see how it develops over the next couple of years. The Libor repapering space is about to explode, and we see a lot of work coming towards legal engineering businesses, so it’s not surprising that Simmons has taken the opportunity to acquire Wavelength.”
The acquisition of Wavelength by Simmons will act as a significant springboard for a firm that is perceived to be behind in terms of its alternative delivery capability – no reflection on highly rated innovation and business change director Ben McGuire.
At Legal IT Insider we have written extensively about the various means by which law firms are growing and developing their alternative capability (see below for links to those stories) and Derek Southall, founder of Hyperscale Group, said: “I think this is the start of a wave of law firms recognising the need to build or buy ‘alternative delivery capabilities’ or at least have a credible collaboration strategy – we will see many more. In one way it is surprising it has taken so long. It is a growing and complimentary service line with a very positive client message which hits real client needs.
“Eversheds, BCLP and Greenberg are also recent examples. I guess the question is how successfully will firms integrate these businesses and how will they scale? How will the needs of global clients be met? In summary, though, a smart move for all and we will see more announcements like this in the next 12 months.”
Peter Lee (pictured top right), co-founder and CEO of Wavelength, commented in a statement today: “We are extremely proud of the impact we have been able to make for our clients by applying our design thinking, data science, and technology skills to real challenges faced by legal teams. At the same time Simmons & Simmons is seeing increasing demand for our skillsets from within their client base and this transaction provides us with an excellent opportunity for us to scale together.”
Jeremy Hoyland, managing partner at Simmons & Simmons, said: ‘This is an exciting opportunity for the firm and one that will give our clients a clear advantage. It demonstrates that we are serious about delivering smarter solutions for our clients and that we are driving change for the better in the legal market. I look forward to working with the Wavelength team and to introducing them to our clients.’
We’ll bring you further analysis and commentary shortly.
And for our in-depth analysis of Greenberg Traurig’s new ALSP Recurve see: