Consilio snaps up UK’s Lawyers On Demand and SYKE in major expansion of enterprise legal services business

Acquisition sees US firm add LOD’s pool of 4,500+ legal practitioners in 25 countries

Andy Macdonald(l) and Simon Harper Image courtesy of Consilio

US eDiscovery and legal services business Consilio has agreed to acquire flexible legal services firm Lawyers on Demand (LOD) and legaltech consultancy SYKE in a major expansion of its enterprise legal services (ELS) business. 

The move will extend Consilio’s ELS business to Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia as well as expand its current UK business, the firm said Wednesday (2 August). 

Consilio’s chief executive officer, Andy Macdonald, said the flexible talent market remained fragmented and that Consilio was “continuing to explore opportunities to create impactful solutions for legal teams as they face an unprecedented amount of talent concerns, as a result of historically high attrition rates, budgetary freezes and legal industry salary increases out of reach for many corporations.”

He added the acquisition of LOD and SYKE would bring expertise in flexible legal talent and legal technology consulting onboard “while unlocking greater scale and capabilities for our clients”.  

For its part LOD became the first provider of freelance lawyers to companies and law firms when it was founded in 2007 with the backing of BCLP predecessor Berwin Leighton Paisner, a model that has since been widely copied.

Since then the company has grown to more than 4,500 lawyers, legal engineers, legal ops consultants, paralegals and risk and compliance professionals providing on-demand services for clients including 27 members of the FTSE 100. 

The business cut ownership ties with BCLP in 2018 following an investment by private equity firm Bowmark Capital that saw the latter become the principal shareholder. Three years later LOD formed a strategic partnership with Leeds-based SYKE that included Bowmark investing an undisclosed amount in SYKE; Bowmark said that upon completion of Consilio’s acquisition it would realise its five-year investment in both businesses. 

LOD and SYKE extended their partnership last year with the launch of an office in New York to better provide US clients services including secondments, managed services, legal ops consultancy and legaltech implementation.

LOD founder Simon Harper said Consilio “has a great story as it has a history of bringing very strategic acquisitions into its fold to become the global leader in legal consulting and services, as well as the world’s largest eDiscovery provider.”

He added: “We’re excited about our shared culture and the vision for what we can offer together to global legal teams. I’ve watched the growth of Consilio’s enterprise legal services business over recent years and look forward to combining forces to reflect client needs and to establish one of the largest legal flexible talent and advisory companies in the space.” 

Consilio is itself owned by a private equity firm, having been bought in 2021 by Stone Point Capital from GI Partners. The firm’s acquisition of LOD and SYKE follows it buying up legaltech and flexible talent rival Legility in 2021, the same year it also bolstered its legal consulting and eDiscovery offerings with the acquisition of Adecco Group’s D4 and EQ business units and through a merger with Xact Data Discovery. 

“As we have been ramping up our global enterprise legal services offerings, our clients are asking us to serve them on a global basis more and more,” said Robb Hern, SVP of enterprise legal services at Consilio. “The similarities between [our firm and LOD and SYKE] in terms of culture, commitment to client experience and operational excellence have been remarkable. Consilio clients will immediately benefit from the in-market expertise LOD and SYKE can offer combined with our existing global enterprise offerings.” 

Alvarez & Marsal served as Consilio’s financial and tax due diligence advisor on the deal. A Jones Day team led by London partners Vica Irani and Alla Barford served as legal advisor and William Blair & Company as financial advisor to Consilio. Rothschild served as financial advisor to LOD and Stephenson Harwood provided legal advice to LOD and SYKE, having previously also advised LOD on its partnership with SYKE in 2021. 

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