The Thomson Corporation announced on 5 January the acquisition of Baker Robbins & Company, the provider of technology and information management consulting to law firms and law departments.
The announcement of this important move came from Baker Robbins & Company’s US HQ and it is important to note that this is essentially a US-based transaction. Baker Robbins is privately held and the terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed.
David Hanssens, president of Consulting Services for Thomson, claimed that acquiring Baker Robbins gives Thomson a depth of understanding of law firm and law department business processes and technology needs that is unmatched in the legal marketplace. “The legal industry today faces more complex challenges than ever before,” said Hanssens. “Baker Robbins is recognized for its disciplined and innovative approach to technology consulting, and is trusted by many of the world’s largest and most successful law firms and law departments for its insight and expertise to meet those challenges. Its unique insights into legal technology trends also give us a sharper perspective on the key issues confronting both inside and outside counsel and will be critical to shaping our overall customer and product strategies.”
Baker Robbins’ co-founders, Chairman David Baker and President and CEO Brad Robbins, will continue to provide leadership for the firm, and consultants will support clients from Baker Robbins offices in Houston, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and London.
The impact of the acquisition in the UK will take some time to filter through. There are bound to be worries about the range of products recommended by, and the independence of, Baker Robbins when it is now so closely associated with a parent that is itself involved in legal software supply. When Laurence Eastham, the Editor of the SCL Web site, put those concerns to Brad Robbins, the CEO of Baker Robbins, he responded as follows:
“We would not have agreed to this acquisition if we thought that our independence would be lost. Our clients value our independence and objective advice. Thomson also recognized the value of our independence and objectivity.
Baker Robbins & Company is in a totally different part of Thomson than the products. We are also under different management from the product related business units. Thomson acquired us to be independent thought leaders and advisors in legal not to promote their existing products. Thomson has publicly stated that we will maintain our independence and that we will be operated as a separate entity. In fact, internally the Thomson product areas have been specifically told that Baker Robbins & Company will remain independent and not to expect any different treatment from Baker Robbins than in the past. Finally, a "firewall"/ ethical wall exists that absolutely prevents any other business within Thomson from any access to our client information, working papers and work product. We also maintain entirely separate e-mail and document management systems.
Hildebrandt International is also owned by Thomson and has operated as an independent company for the past two years. They have a UK office. I believe their ability to stay impartial and independent is evidence that we can do it as well.
As you are aware, we have never resold products, in the UK or anywhere in the world, in order to maintain our ability to be independent advisors.”