New Law pioneer Axiom is to make good on long-mooted plans to float in a potential milestone for the alternative law sector. Axiom announced today (19 February) that it has submitted a draft registration document for a proposed initial public offering (IPO) with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The prospects of a public offering for the US-based trailblazer – regarded by many as the most prominent New Law brand in the world – is a symbolic development for the legal industry, potentially providing a bellwether for the fast-growing alt law market.
The company was founded in 2000, originally on the model of offering high calibre legal ‘locums’, growing to reported revenue of $360m in the 2017/18 financial year. The company has more than 2,000 employees across three continents.
It is the latest in a long line of New Law firms to seek external investment, though the US-bred Axiom had long been expected to float rather than seek a trade buyer. An IPO would follow competitor UnitedLex securing a $500m war chest after private equity house CVC Capital Partners acquired a majority stake in the business in September, and on a smaller scale, Lawyers On Demand’s sale to Bowmark Capital in May.
It also follows a number of UK legal floats in recent years, most recently top-25 UK law firm DWF, which plans to raise £75m on the London Stock Exchange next month.
The benefits of floating traditional law firms have long been debated, but New Law businesses such as Axiom have typically been seen as more compelling investments, particularly as technology and automation turn more of institutional legal services into scalable process.
Axiom also spun off two of its companies today, Knowable and Axiom Managed Solutions, which provide enterprise contracts intelligence and solutions for complex legal work respectively.
AMS chief revenue officer Chris DeConti (pictured) commented: ‘Both Knowable and AMS require and deserve the sharpness of focus, capital, and leadership energy that come with being independent growth companies. Independence will also allow us to seize unique opportunities and better serve clients, with an efficiency of focus, dedicated management teams, and tailored investment strategies.’
Few doubt that the success (or failure) of Axiom’s public offering will be a significant moment for the legal industry on a global level.