Legal Business

Growth and investment define New Law as frontrunners make big gains

Industry pioneers are attracting public and private interest in alternative models

While many lofty predictions of New Law’s rise remain unrealised, the market’s traditional champions have all made major contributions to its growth in recent weeks. Flexible lawyering business Axiom engaged in a surprise private equity (PE) sale; US alternative provider UnitedLex turned over $350m in an impressive year; while Elevate achieved revenues of £76m in another record result.

Legal Business

Moment of truth: New Law champion Axiom unveils float plans but break up of its business raises doubts

Axiom making good on long-trailed plans to float will be a milestone for New Law. Thomas Alan assesses if the trailblazer can live up to its own rhetoric

When Axiom announced in February its intentions to float, it was a seminal moment for New Law, with the pioneering flexible lawyering company established as the most prominent global brand in the sector. Back in 2013 one excited commentator forecast 2018 as the year Axiom would become the world’s largest legal provider (spoiler alert, it still wouldn’t make the Global 100).

Legal Business

New Law champion Axiom announces IPO plans in trailblazing move for global legal market

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.

Legal Business

Preparing for Brexit – alternative provider Axiom launches new AI as deadline looms

Marking the 365-day countdown to Brexit, alternative legal services provider Axiom has today (29 March) launched a purpose-built service to aid companies revise millions of financial services contracts as the pressure to update paperwork increases with the UK’s exit from the EU looming.

Designed specifically for in-house legal teams, the service, named ‘BrexitBridge’, will incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) to help companies update and rewrite their contracts they begin one of the largest contract-renewal endeavours ever undertaken.

Axiom estimates that financial services companies spanning the UK and EU will need to revise more than 7.5 million contracts due to Brexit. Over 100 types of contract would be involved, with numerous European regulations and domestic laws  needed to be taken into account as companies made their changes.The newplatform will seek to use data aggregation tools to organise existing contracts into information packages and convert contract text into structured data.

Chris DeConti – executive vice-president of global solutions at Axiom – said: ‘With a year to go until Brexit, companies need to get their contracts ready now. In practice, this means repapering massive volumes of contracts of all types to ensure continuity. ’

In Axiom’s BrexitBridge guide, the firm suggests all financial products and services sold cross-border will be affected, placing  strains on traditional approaches to contract revision. Axiom has pedigree in  contracting support, as in 2016 the firm signed a five-year contract with consumer giant Johnson & Johnson to support the company’s global procurement contracting function.

However the platform may have significance beyond Brexit, as the cost and complexity of contract revision becomes untenable. DeConti told Legal Business: ‘This sort of work will become more tech-enabled for some time to come’.

Legal Business

Welcome to the GC Powerlist reception!

A warm congratulations to all of the nominees at the Legal Business Awards and especially to those of you who have made the GC Powerlist. We’re delighted to sponsor such a prestigious awards ceremony as well as celebrate top UK GCs.

Legal Business

Outsourced: Axiom seals five year contract with consumer giant Johnson & Johnson


Consumer and pharmaceutical goods giant Johnson & Johnson has entered into a five-year deal with Axiom to support the company’s global procurement contracting function.

This increases Axiom’s life sciences portfolio, which currently serves 22 of the top 25 global pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device companies, including nine of the top ten. Overall, Axiom has 2,000 lawyers and other professionals working for half of the Fortune 100 across 15 regions.

Axion will be responsible for thousands of procurement agreements in more than 10 different languages, across a dozen contract types for Johnson & Johnson, through a team of negotiators and subject matter experts, as well as a team of lawyers who will provide ‘white glove service’ for more complex agreements.

Most of Axiom’s work for Johnson & Johnson will come from its office in Wroclaw, Poland which opened in late 2014. Axiom’s Chicago office will also serve as a ‘front-door’ same time zone support for North America.

Axiom executive vice president Al Giles (pictured) said: ‘we are pleased by what this deal represents for contracting in the life sciences industry: the progression from an artisanal approach to a model that applies standardisation, automation and process.’

‘That approach not only creates a more efficient contracting function, but it also has commercial benefits – shortening cycle times and better managing risk’, he added.

In 2014, BT selected Axiom for its global legal outsourcing and analytics for a three-year contract, with Axiom contracted to undertake 30-50 instructions per day across Europe, US/Canada and APAC, from simple work such as non-disclosure agreements and first mark-ups of contracts during requests for proposals, to more sophisticated work like end-to-end negotiations of master service agreements and product and service agreements.

Axiom supports BT from its European headquarters in London and international centres in Belfast, Gurgaon and Houston, giving the telecoms giant commercial and administrative support for 20 hours a day.

Legal Business

The accountants keep coming: EY launches in Belfast with Axiom appointment


Big Four accountant Ernst & Young (EY) has appointed Axiom’s Aaron Stewart as a director to head up the launch of a legal services arm in Belfast.

According to EY, Stewart will be working with the accountant’s clients across the UK and will also be responsible for building and running a team in Belfast.

Commenting on the launch, Philip Goodstone, EY’s head of law in the UK said: ‘As we continue to grow our legal services team, we remain focussed on finding the best talent, regardless of geographical location. Aaron brings a wealth of experience to the role and will be a real asset to our clients across the UK.’

The move to expand the legal services team across the UK comes after the accountancy giant was granted an alternative business structure (ABS) licence by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in December 2014 in a bid to provide ‘integrated, multidisciplinary’ legal services across England and Wales.

Headed up by Addleshaw Goddard’s former corporate head Goodstone and Matthew Kellet who was recruited from Berwin Leighton Paisner, EY’s UK law practice has grown to a team of 40 since the firm received the licence with former Olswang employment head Daniel Aherne in charge of building and leading the employment law team.

EY’s global law practice has 1500 legal professionals in 67 countries with legal teams in Mexico, Costa Rica, Singapore, China, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand. Its core legal services are corporate commercial, employment, financial services and M&A/transactions.

Legal Business

Jumping on the bandwagon: Ashurst and Axiom unite for new tech service aimed at banks


Axiom has partnered with Ashurst in a joint venture aimed at helping banks meet new regulations coming into force next year.

In the first partnership with a law firm by the legal technology provider, Axiom will use its technology to extract key data from documents and create new documents in line with changes in variation margin rules and derivatives requirements, which are scheduled to come into force in 2017.

Ashurst will advise clients on how to write new rules and on the signing of those new agreements.

Axiom says it has six of the world’s largest banks as clients, meaning it is going head to head with Magic Circle firms which typically handle this type of work.

The announcement follows news of Allen & Overy’s joint venture with Deloitte, the first major pairing of a Big Four accountant and a Magic Circle firm. The two have worked together to create a tech-driven service dubbed MarginMatrix to help banks address incoming global regulation of the $500trn over-the-counter derivatives market.

Axiom global head of banking Chris DeConti said: ‘Axiom is delighted to be working with Ashurst as our first partner in a new model for collaborating with law firms to deliver a comprehensive solution to our client spanning world-class legal advisory and legal execution capabilities. We look forward to announcing other partners in the future.’

Ashurst has recently made a strong push for innovation, announcing the appointment of RBS head of EMEA loan markets Dave Rome to a newly-created position of strategic director of corporate lending earlier this month. Rome will bring his 25 years’ experience at RBS and NatWest across the UK, Europe and Asia to develop and grow drive the firm’s strategy across syndicated loan markets.

The firm announced the shake-up of its management team in May, introducing three new roles in leadership and innovation. Glasgow managing partner Mike Polson and Sydney-based banking and finance partner Jamie Ng will take up the roles of co-heads of innovation, while London-based infrastructure partner Logan Mair has won the role of head of clients. Former co-head of the firm’s corporate division Simon Beddow has been made London office managing partner in a newly created position.


Legal Business

BT selects Axiom for global legal outsourcing and analytics contract


Jobling steps aside as head of volume business BT Law

An innovator long at the vanguard of transforming the traditional in-house legal function, BT in February entered into a three-year contract with Axiom to provide the telecoms giant with legal outsourcing and analytics services across the UK, US, Africa, Middle East and Asia, replacing and extending a contract formerly held by legal process outsourcing (LPO) provider UnitedLex.

All work previously undertaken by UnitedLex, which includes 30% of BT’s global services division’s legal work in the UK, transferred to Axiom on 1 February after a successful tender process that concluded towards the end of 2013.

Legal Business

Axiom hires new UK MD from LexisNexis in senior leadership reshuffle and BT fills competition GC role


In the wake of its latest high profile outsourcing deal with BT, Axiom, arguably the most touted alternative legal services provider, is to boost its senior management team with the hire of LexisNexis’ director of legal markets, Nick West, as incumbent Al Giles moves into a more senior role as executive vice president, head of regional markets.

West is to take the role of managing director of the UK business at Axiom, which Giles, who will continue to be UK-based, has held since he was brought in from Linklaters to launch the US group’s London office in 2007.

On joining in late March, West will oversee the growth of Axiom’s business in the UK, which recently formed part of a multi-site deal with BT, under which Axiom will undertake 30-50 instructions per day across its London, Belfast, Gurgaon and Houston offices. The outsourcing agreement includes simple work such as non-disclosure agreements and first mark-ups of contracts during requests for proposals, to more sophisticated instructions such as end-to-end negotiations of master service agreements and product and service agreements for BT’s telecommunication, internet, voice and video conferencing products and services.

Founded in the US in 2000, Axiom has trebled in size over the last two years and hired 58 lawyers in the first quarter of 2013.

It traditionally has arranged high level secondments for in-house legal teams, outsourcing deals and staffed large ad hoc projects. However, the company is increasingly promoting its contractual analytics capability, and speaking earlier to Legal Business, New York chief operating officer Paul Carr said: ‘A company’s contractual relationship is a really important interface that defines risk, brand and how easy it is to do business with them. Why we are heavily oriented around it is we think it’s a really underserved area.’

The move comes as BT this week hired former principal legal advisor at Sky, Bruce Breckenridge, who joins as GC for competition and regulatory.

The new position was created in a bid to centralise responsibility for competition and regulatory law matters at the FTSE 100 telecoms company and recruit a specialist competition lawyer to lead BT’s team of 16 competition lawyers and to act as the principal point of contact for BT’s senior executives.

It follows the restructuring of BT Retail last year, which split into two divisions, BT Consumer and BT Business, and the reorganisation of its legal teams.

Nigel Paterson, who has been leading the competition team, will continue to be GC for BT Consumer, a role that has expanded considerably of late, particularly since the launch and growth of BT Sport.

Prior to Sky, Breckenridge was a competition associate at Allen & Overy for almost five years, having trained at Lovells, now Hogan Lovells, qualifying in 1997.

Breckenbridge said: ‘I am delighted to be joining BT to head up their competition & regulatory law team. This is a very exciting time to be joining BT, given the growing significance of competition law and regulatory issues.’