In just a few years, Legalsense has earned a top spot in the rankings of practice management systems used by law firms in the Netherlands. The company not only makes thousands of current users happy and satisfied but is also expanding internationally. In addition to Belgium, this includes Germany and the Nordic countries. Legalsense’s best-of-breed approach is gaining traction here as well.
A best-of-breed software environment, i.e. an environment where different applications are connected into a single digital IT infrastructure, is on the rise in Europe. We talk about this trend with Legalsense’s sales team: Marcel Woensdregt, Danijela Petrovic and Eric-Jan van Alten. They have been advocating the best-of-breed approach for years, not only in the Netherlands but also abroad.
A best-of-breed environment: what is it exactly?
Danijela: “Let’s say a law firm needs new practice management software. In this case, they have a choice between a traditional all-in-one software package or a best-of-breed solution. With an all-in-one solution, processes and functionality such as CRM, time tracking and document management are all in one bundle. In contrast, a best-of-breed environment consists of subsystems from different providers, such as Legalsense, that are often integrated with each other via APIs. These subsystems are applications that focus on a single business process. This means that due to the specific focus, these applications often have a wider range of functionalities, not to mention that they are also more user-friendly.”
Why is Legalsense going international with its best-of-breed positioning?
Marcel: “In the Netherlands, we have built a significant market share. At this point we can even say that we are one of the market leaders. In order to continue to be the frontrunner on your home turf, it is important to look beyond your horizon. With a growing market share in the rest of Europe, we are determined to succeed internationally, which ultimately leads to greater opportunities for development. We are already very successful in Sweden and now we are becoming more popular in Germany, Belgium and the rest of the Nordic region. We see very clearly that lawyers outside the Netherlands also benefit from using our software.”
You mentioned some traditional, more conservative markets. Germany, for example, still has some catching up to do in SaaS, and the Belgian market is still largely dominated by all-in-one solutions. Is there really a market for the «best-of-breed»?
Eric-Jan: “To market a ‘best-of-breed’ solution in these countries, you need tenacity, and we have it. Fortunately, the Netherlands are widely seen as innovative leaders when it comes to IT. Of course, we see that law firms in Belgium, for instance, are a bit hesitant at first. They prefer to stick with what they are familiar with. But we are quickly gaining territory here and this is due to the many advantages that our solution offers. With a best-of-breed solution, you are no longer dependent on one provider, you work entirely in the cloud, and you have the best available application for each practice area, with Legalsense as its beating heart. In such a working environment, law firms are more agile and can achieve their growth goals faster.”
Eric-Jan continues: “Among other factors, the growing demand for a good document and email management solution is also contributing to our message. Firms are increasingly finding that the document management capabilities of all-in-one solutions are inadequate. As a result, they are looking for specialized document management systems. This all leads to a best-of-breed approach. More and more law firms in Belgium are opting for a best-of-breed environment, where Legalsense is one of the key components.”
Danijela: “In Germany, it is important to speak the language, but also to have a thorough knowledge of the workflows. Germany is an exceptionally large market with many sophisticated software solutions. The simplicity of our application and the fact that we speak the language of European lawyers is appealing to law firms. In addition, more and more German law firms are turning to the cloud, which also contributes to the adoption of our solution. The market is slowly starting to transition here as well. Law firms want to work more efficiently. Especially the niche ones with younger lawyers who want to do things differently. It speaks for us that we have been there since the beginning of this transition.”
How disruptive are you?
Eric-Jan: “All-in-one is the norm abroad. A bit like it was in the Netherlands years ago. In those markets, we are known for doing things differently, and we are proud of that. We show law firms that best-of-breed is an interesting alternative to the often-cumbersome all-in-one systems. Fortunately, there is a lot of interest in how we can help. This shows that law firms are on the lookout. When they innovate, they hesitate between the familiar and the new. When we showcase our solution, we demonstrate in practice the many benefits of working in an integrated environment where applications from different providers come together. It is the speedboat versus the oil tanker, so to speak.”
The Nordic region is quite fragmented in terms of concentration of law firms, cultures and so on. How is the best-of-breed approach perceived there?
Danijela: “Sweden is one of the most interesting markets for us. There we have integrations with the most widely used applications such as NetDocuments, iManage and Fortnox. This has already given us a solid market share. In Sweden, over 500 users now work with Legalsense on a daily basis. The law firms here have very open communication, a flat hierarchy and are open to international providers. From this base, we are now also entering the Danish and Norwegian markets.”
What do you think is the best approach to gain further ground?
Marcel: “In Belgium, we work diligently on our relationships and enjoy visiting our potential customers. The same goes for Germany. We need to be on the ground, speak the language and understand how people interact and work. Of course, we also make sure that the software is available in the appropriate languages. We are slowly moving law firms away from the idea that all-in-one is the only wat to go. We are giving them alternatives and thus the freedom to choose.”
Danijela: “We are from the Netherlands, but we speak the language of our customers. Good references are very important, and we are proud that our users are so satisfied that they are happy to recommend us. We are tenacious and have 100% confidence in the added value of our software.”
Finally, where are your strengths in a best-of-breed solution?
Danijela: “Legalsense offers a wide range of features for timekeeping, billing, matter management and reporting. For example, we have five different ways to record time and provide a very practical workflow to accommodate the billing process. If we continue to focus on these functional areas, we will strengthen our position as world-class specialists. All our development power goes into that. Being the best at what you do is what makes a company successful. Also abroad.”