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Global law company seeks more purchases after buying UK firm

Patel: Halebury to become ABS

Global law company Elevate is looking for more acquisitions this year after buying pioneering UK commercial law firm Halebury, which uses freelance lawyers to support in-house teams.

John Croft, president of Elevate, told Legal Futures that the next target would “probably be more global”, and could include an international law firm based in the UK.

He added: “Our strategy has not changed. Our purpose is to bring efficiency to the legal system. Forward-looking law firms with a different approach are just the kind of people we like working with.”

Mr Croft said a stock market listing was “something Elevate had talked about as part of the journey” and was likely to mean joining those law firms listed on AIM.

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.

“We’re on this journey to build a law company, and at the moment we’re pretty unique,” Mr Croft said.

“There are lots of law firms and plenty of legal tech companies, outsourcers and firms providing freelance lawyers. Elevate is the only company that does all of these things. Because we cannot point to another company that does everything, it makes for an exciting journey.”

Janvi Patel, co-founder of Halebury, said the firm would become an alternative business structure as part of the purchase.

She and Halebury’s other co-founder, Denise Nurse, will be joined as directors of the ABS by Mr Croft and Liam Brown, founder and executive chairman of Elevate.

Ms Patel said Halebury, which launched in 2007, would retain its own brand and identity.

“We wanted to do something different and entrepreneurial,” she said. “Elevate comes to the table with different ideas. They are very client focused. They work with law firms, but their model is different.

“We were not looking for a sale, but we have had a really encouraging and smooth ride, which is unusual. There has not been a moment when I felt something did not make sense.”

Ms Patel said one of the attractions of Elevate was the strength of its training and career progression. She said Halebury spent a lot of time training the firm’s 45 freelance lawyers, many of whom have worked in-house.

“This is very much a growth story for us. We want to take what we have created and make it more accessible.”

She added: “Law firm billing and operational models make it hard to get full engagement with in-house teams.

“Unless you’ve been an in-house lawyer, it hard to understand the difference between private practice and being in the forefront of business decisions.

“Elevate has different ideas and a client focus in which one box does not fit everyone. We share the same ethos.”

Elevate employs about 1,000 people around the world including, following the Halebury purchase, around 125 in the UK.

It signed a memorandum of understanding [1] with south-east England commercial firm asb law in December 2017.

Last year, Elevate bought [2] technology and consulting firm LexPredict, one of whose founders is well-known US legal academic Dan Katz.