Legal Software Suppliers and Sunsetting of Products

Wednesday 3 April, 2019

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Insight Legal Software

Purchasing a Legal Software product is not something that firms do very often. The research involved, the time taken and the pressure of choosing the right system can seem like a daunting task.

The Legal Software market is currently in the midst of a period of significant change and consolidation, with many providers being taken over by larger organisations.

In years gone by, suppliers in the 1 to 200 user firm market tended to be owner-managed businesses. Firms looking to purchase from them bought into the ethos of the company, the service and the people, safe in the knowledge that if they needed assistance or if there was a problem, the MD of the supplier company (and in most cases the owner) was a phone call away.

Today’s landscape is very different, with a good number of these MD owned businesses having been bought up by larger Venture Capitalist backed businesses seeking to consolidate the market.

Companies are purchased for a number of reasons:

  • The Owner wants to retire and has no succession planning in place.
  • The big ticket day arrives when a big corporate arrives with a fat cheque and the “once in a lifetime” decision has to be made.
  • The software product that they have is getting a bit long in the tooth and needs a re-write to modern technology (for example to allow true cloud computing) and the cost of doing so would require an investment injection and therefore realising the value of years of hard work is a better option.

We are hearing from a lot of law firms that the company who have bought their software supplier are deciding not to continue developing and supporting all their products. They look to regain some of their purchase cost by increasing their monthly fees and by releasing the staff who developed and supported these products. At the same time, any investment that they do make goes towards their own “go-forward” product. Unfortunately, the end result of this can be that the software products that law firms invested in are no longer supported, and in many cases are ‘end of lifed’ or ‘sunsetted’.

In these situations, it is often the case that the other products they have bought go into a state known as “Sustained Engineering” or “Care and Maintenance Mode”. These terms mean pretty much the same thing, and that is that there will be no more functional releases and only legislative changes. In some cases, the systems will cease entirely and no longer be available for use and certainly not be supported.

This, of course, puts pressure on firms to change. Whether your main concerns are the withdrawal of support, the lack of development, the increased cost or the change in personnel, it is unlikely that you will want (or be able) to stick with the product you invested so much in choosing in the first place.

Before withdrawing your current product, the consolidator will invariably ensure that they present you with a migration option or an “upgrade path”. In some cases this will be a much newer, shinier product than the one you currently have and, if you’re lucky, it will also have increased functionality. In other cases, you may find that the system they present for you to move to is entirely different. This is, perhaps, to be expected given that the new product wasn’t built to be a natural successor to your system, it just happened to be the product owned and developed by the consolidator.

It is perhaps understandable that, under the heavy ‘guidance’ of the provider and the timescales that are enforced, firms feel that they have no option but to follow this migration path.

There is however an alternative. There are independent companies out there that win awards for their service, who have very modern and functionally rich software, have an expertise in migrations, have a product roadmap to enhance their offering and are very much like the company that you invested in in the first place.

Food for thought…..

Insight Legal offers the solution for your future:

– An independent company, owned by the working directors

– Local and remote support and training services

– Comprehensive migration

– Not part of any group company or product line

– A team who have worked in the Legal IT market for literally decades

– Scalable, cost effective and customisable solutions for all sizes of firms

– Award winning modern ‘next generation’ software solutions