UnitedLex is thinking digitally—or is hoping that clients are doing so, anyway. The alternative legal service provider announced today it has acquired technology provider Blackstone Discovery for an undisclosed sum, through which the company will look to build out its forensics capabilities and establish a new West Coast hub.
Blackstone’s employees, leadership and technologies will be folded completely into UnitedLex’s existing infrastructure. Name change aside, the goal is for clients to be confronted with little in the way of disruption.
“Our mission is that [clients] do not receive any disruptions to service, they still have access to the same people and service offerings that they really appreciated out of the Blackstone team. We represent international scale, and scale on each of the functions that Blackstone serves for their clients today, so that immediate scale with our thousands of resources is something that we can believe can be leveraged by Blackstone clients if they so choose,” said Ryan Reeves, chief client officer, litigation at UnitedLex.
Absorbing another company is somewhat of a novel concept for the ALSP. Reeves noted that UnitedLex has not traditionally undertaken much in the way of M&A activity. Still, he pointed to the Santa Clara, California-based Blackstone’s experience working with tech-savvy customers in Silicon Valley as a major selling point.
“Blackstone has really served clients that were born in the digital age, the new modern technology companies that have grown rapidly over the last decade, many of which have created the new ways that we all work, with Microsoft Teams, Yammer and Slack, Zoom … Blackstone in our view has kind of a head start on attacking those new kinds of emerging data sources as they relate to litigation and investigation,” Reeves said.
The company’s product menu would seem to bear that out. Blackstone offers e-discovery-centric services like managed review and forensics while also proffering assistance with other information governance challenges such as cyber investigations and incident response. Those offerings are likely music to the ears of UnitedLex, which in the last two years has focused on making investments in technology and talent to address the needs of corporate legal departments embarking on a digital transformation.
For instance, the company released version 2.0 of Vantage, its cloud-based legal workflow platform, in September 2020. Meanwhile, in February 2021 UnitedLex announced five new management-level hires that had been lured away from Big Four members Deloitte and PwC, all with an eye towards bolstering its knowledge base around digital experience and service delivery.
“We’re being highly aggressive in the market in making sure that we are balancing out all of these different components together. So we’re not focused on, ‘Oh yeah, we’ve got money into technology.’ We have to balance both,” Dave Edelheit, UnitedLex’s chief digital and transformation officer, previously told LTN.
“Both” is part of the Blackstone package. In addition to its technology services, the e-discovery provider also leverages a stable of former litigators and e-discovery consultants to act as subject matter experts.
“We’re looking forward to joining the UnitedLex family and working to scale our offerings to meet increasing demand in the market,” said John P. Kelly, CEO and founder of BlackStone Discovery.
To be sure, UnitedLex isn’t the only service provider in the market looking to address legal departments’ growing needs around technological transformation, especially with the pandemic underscoring the value of digitization. Big Four members and alternative legal service providers alike are also bringing a blend of expertise and technology to the table as they jockey for the role of trusted adviser.
For its part, UnitedLex has already put Blackstone’s employees to work finishing up a new “multidisciplinary” platform that the company plans to release sometime in the near future, although Reilly was reluctant to go into too much detail.
“We have always approached our solutions as they are industrial strength for the entire law department,” he said.
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