We talk to Jason Parkman, CEO of leading US lawtech company Mitratech, about industry challenges, the role of its investors, and how the company balances innovation and reliability for a client base that includes 40% of all Fortune 500 companies.
What have been Mitratech’s key innovations and strategic moves in the last few years (since acquiring Bridgeway and CaseTrack), and how have they exceeded and/or fallen short of expectations?
Since those acquisitions, a whole lot has happened. We’ve expanded from just being focused on core legal operations, which is still the core of our business and where most of our clients begin with us. We’ve expanded into what now is being considered broadly as integrated risk management, and we’re one of the only players in the market bringing together legal, operations management, policy management, information governance (particularly for financial services), and now really easy-to-use workflow to all those customers so they can expand from their core areas of expertise and bring others in and allow them to be integrated into their legal and risk compliance departments through easy workflow.
We’ve been also really focused on meeting our customers where they are. We now really provide our solutions to the high end of the market and to the less complex, more middle-market companies. We’ve focused a lot on things like integration. So we’ve integrated with office applications, document management systems, systems of record for our customers all around.
What are the key challenges Mitratech will face in 2019 and beyond, and how does it plan to address them?
Industry challenges. We’re going from an industry that has been traditionally seen as a laggard in terms of technology to one that is turning toward innovation… they see how much benefit you can get from the visibility, predictability, standardisation and control you get by implementing technology across legal risk and compliance.
We have clients looking for machine learning and wanting to experiment with the difference [such things] can make in their business, while demanding rock-solid applications that work every time. So for us, it’s balancing these two things. Expectations of technology are changing.
Could you tell me a bit about Mitratech’s short-term and long-term strategy (including, but not limited to, whether it's worth establishing offices in other jurisdictions, and if so, where)?
The short-term strategy for us is really to continue to deliver for our customers. We’re focusing on legal operations at the core of our business, as our customers’ needs expand we’re expanding what we’re bringing to them in terms of risk, compliance and policy management.
You’re right to talk about other jurisdictions – we have expanded from being a primarily US-based business to now being one with presence in Europe out of the UK, and with our office in Melbourne we have a launchpad for our purposes in the Asia-Pacific region. What we’re doing is continuing to expand the solutions that we’re bringing to our customers, making sure they’re appropriate for customers of all sizes, making sure they’re fully internationally capable and continue to operate out of our bases of operations in the US, the UK and Australia. Right now I don’t see us further expanding our geographic footprint out of [these areas].
Why Melbourne rather than Sydney?
That’s where we acquired a business called CMO Compliance, which was on the risk management side. They were serving a lot of heavy manufacturing clients in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region in general, so it was a great place for us to continue to grow from.
You said you were expanding your solutions as a company. What kind of solutions are we talking about?
We’ve just launched our new business intelligence solution for our corporate legal clients; we have expanded versions of that that will be coming out. We’re also integrating our solutions in such a way that we’ll be able to bring new versions of contract life-cycle management to our customers; that’s really important to them.
How did TA Associates’ acquisition of Mitratech three years ago affect Mitratech? (Tell us the bad and the ugly as well as the good!)
We have two investors – TA Associates is one, but also HG Capital. The two of them together have really expanded the view of the business from being primarily US-focused to being one with a more international focus. HG Capital is [based in] London; TA is also global. That’s been the primary change from their involvement in the business.
Any challenges or negatives so far?
To be honest, both have been very good partners. You want a partner that really buys into the strategy of the business, and TA and HG both really believe in legal risk and compliance as great areas to invest [in]. I wish I had a dirty story for you, but they’ve been good!
Who do you see as Mitratech’s key competitors, and how is Mitratech distinguishing itself and keeping ahead of the game?
In the legal operations area, it’s primarily big global players like Walter Sklewer, Thomson Reuters, policy management business like Navex Global. In information governance you also have big players like IBM, Filehead, OpenText Documentum – those tend to be the primary players we come up against.
The way we distinguish ourselves is to be much more agile. We move much more quickly, and are, I think, much closer to our customers – understanding what they’re looking for, and being very responsive on the products side and the services side. With clients we tend to develop really close relations where once they begin with us, they want to continue to expand [with us].
You provide technology solutions to help clients remain compliant. Specifically how has Mitratech been using technology in-house to improve its own processes?
It’s as you’d expect: we are big users of Policy Hub, our policy management system; we are big users of our Tap workflow automation system. I was actually just looking at a list of about twentysomething different workflows that we are going to be implementing over the next year within our own operations. These solutions work for companies of all sizes, so certainly we’re big users of our own software. Our legal department doing automated NDA requests [is another example]. We’re required to comply with all the same things as our customers are, as a global business, so I’m glad we have the software!