Elevate secures £20m investment to continue growth spurt

Croft: Access to capital

Global law company Elevate – which bought UK law firm Halebury earlier this year – has secured a $25m (£20m) minority investment as it continues to scale up.

The money has come from US private equity firm Kanye Partners, and is the first external capital taken by the business.

Elevate, based in Los Angeles, describes itself as a ‘law company’ rather than a law firm and provides a wide range of consulting, technology and legal support services, instead of direct legal advice.

The acquisition of Halebury added a freelance lawyer service to its offering in the UK.

It was part of a series of deals recently that also saw Elevate buy legal AI technology and consultancy LexPredict, contract lifecycle management provider Sumati Group, fellow law company Yerra Solutions, and Hong Kong-based flexible legal resourcing business Cognatio Law.

These were funded in part by $25m financing from a credit fund managed by Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital.

Elevate has grown by an average of 65% per annum for the past five years, with 2019 sales forecasted to exceed $75m. With more than 1,000 staff – including around 125 in the UK – it provides services to over 100 Global 1000 corporations and over 20 global law firms.

Founder and executive chairman Liam Brown said: “This reflects the accelerating trend for law departments, law firms, and law companies to work together to more efficiently meet the growing legal demands in the business world.

“Our AI-powered enterprise legal management software platform supports process transformation for some of the most innovative global companies and law firms in the world.”

Leon Chen, a partner at Kayne Partner Funds, who has joined Elevate’s board, added: “Elevate is addressing a critical need in a sizable market, with a new business model, just as change is beginning to take hold in the legal sector.”

John Croft, president of Elevate, told Legal Futures that the cash strengthened the company’s balance sheet and reserves “for any future acquisitions we want to make” – he has previously indicated that Elevate’s next target would “probably be more global”, and could include an international law firm based in the UK.

“One of the great attractions of a law company versus a traditional law firm partnership is access to outside capital,” he added. While it could do so in the UK too as an alternative business structure, Mr Croft stressed that Elevate had no desire to become a law firm.

It is, however, planning a public listing in 2021.

He emphasised that Elevate had no intention of competing with the largest law firms; rather its focus was on the business of law, running a legal department and handling volume legal tasks such as contract review and due diligence. “We provide them at scale and efficiently,” he said.

“We think that most businesses need an in-house legal team to keep the business safe and that for most of the business as usual work, you don’t need to be regulated – that is the market we’re going after.”

Mr Croft added the Halebury acquisition has “gone well”. With its founders, solicitors Denise Nurse and Janvi Patel joining Elevate’s executive leadership team, they have started rolling out the Halebury model of flexible lawyering globally.

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