Further to success in Australia, PracticeEvolve launched operations within the UK in 2018. We speak with David Boland, Global CEO of PracticeEvolve Group, about their recent acquisitions, cloud software and how legal tech providers need to take responsibility for the success of law firms.
Tell us a little about PracticeEvolve?
We began as Documatics, a Document and Workflow Management provider specialising in the legal market in Ireland in 2003. If I’m honest, I started by simply developing software to impress my father in law. I quickly realised there was a demand for better technology, growing it from there. In 2008, we took the software to Australia. Having seen success there and expanding to include Legal Accounting, we returned to the UK in 2018 as there remains a clear need for forward thinking legal management solutions. Having acquired SOS and Linetime in 2020, we have a joined-up vision to be the most respected legal tech provider. To achieve that, we recognise our responsibility to offer a clear pathway to the cloud, reliable software and how we must service and support the market for the future.
Are there clear differences between Ireland, Australia and the UK?
Aside from the obvious compliance and regulation requirements, not really. Certainly not in terms of the software or how they conduct and manage their businesses. With such a diverse install base we do see interesting trends emerging in one jurisdiction that can be quickly applied to all firms. As an example, the vast distances involved in Australia meant we’re expert over there at delivering training and implementations largely online. When Covid hit were able to use this to our client’s advantage in adjusting to the new reality. In fact, a really common thread amongst the markets we’re now seeing is very much to provide a Cloud strategy for those firms that, post Covid, want to continue to benefit from remote working.
What is your strategy for acquiring SOS and Linetime?
SOS and Linetime have an excellent reputation as mature, operational Practice Management Systems. They joined PracticeEvolve Group as they too have seen the market becoming more demanding in regards to the software and roadmap for the future, one they inevitably saw leading to the Cloud. PracticeEvolve’s investment, business model and technology provide for a strong, successful future with a very clear pathway to the Cloud.
In what way has the UK Legal Market changed since 2018?
Importantly, while the pandemic accelerated behaviours, I would say the savvy firms were already demanding better technology prior to 2018. We have seen an increase in the demand for software providers to present a strategy enabling scalability, product development and service. We know future global technology developments such as 5G and a workforce that is used to operating via apps and browsers is constantly changing the landscape and is potentially one of the biggest challenges facing firms. I am sure we will continue to see demand for native Cloud software grow because it is easier to scale, easier to manage, offers better security and reduces operating costs.
Is native Cloud software the future?
Definitely, because it is purpose built for the cloud rather than adapted to work as best as possible within the Cloud. We are already seeing firms take those steps in looking for native, browser based, cloud software as they look for efficiencies and to operate the way users want to work. Of course, many firms will have invested in infrastructures meaning they will take a strategic view as to when they evolve to a full cloud solution, seeing a pathway to the cloud. It’s why we will also offer the ability to host their current applications in the cloud as part of the long-term Cloud strategy we are providing to firms.
Aside from Cloud products, what else is PracticeEvolve Group doing to secure the future for Law Firms?
I don’t think I’m doing anyone a disservice by saying many management systems contain much the same functionality. However, there is evidence to say only 40-50% of any system is being utilised. So firms are potentially spending money they don’t need to. It’s crazy to think what firms are potentially putting more effort into cost efficiencies yet missing the one area that can truly add ROI. That’s not a criticism of firms but rather a criticism as to how providers have set themselves up.
It’s exactly why we are focused on providing a level of service that focuses on helping clients of PracticeEvolve, SOS and Linetime increase usage across systems. We’re intent on breaking what could be perceived as complacency in the world of providers and focusing on competency, community and cloud services that offer a clear strategic future for law firms and their staff.
And finally, what would you do differently if you could do it all again?
That’s really difficult question. I genuinely believe perfection is never enough and you are always challenged. A key value for the group is ‘perfection through action’ which is to say only actions will get a result you can be proud of. I’ve been doing this now for nearly 20 years, and as a business owner I can relate with my clients with the struggle and challenge to realise my dream. In doing that I’ve travelled all over the world, and met the most interesting people along the way. Working the long hours that this level of success requires, the one thing I would have changed is to enjoy it more.