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Strange effort by a tiny law department to market its customized contract management system

Ladbrokes, the UK gaming company with four lawyers on its inside legal team, tied with TI Automotive for the smallest department to make this year’s the Financial Times list of innovative law departments. Surprisingly, David has embarked on a software development and marketing initiative in a Goliath market.

As summarized in the online description, the legal team “developed a bespoke contract management system with a procurement software provider, and is planning to sell it to other in-house teams and law firms.” Perhaps the software company will take on all the selling, installation, support and development. Perhaps Ladbrokes acted as the beta site. Perhaps the actual arrangement has been garbled by the press.

I have inveighed against customized software written by law departments, even more against small law departments taking on that cost and obligation to support, and most certainly in a field already crowded with major competitors (See my post of June 3, 2009: bespoke, customized software written for legal departments with 12 references.).

Many vendors compete in that space. When I searched online about this arrangement, Google ads aplenty offered contract management software from Ariba, Compliance360, Ecteon, Emptoris, Protivity and Selectiva (See my post of Nov. 22, 2008: contract management software with 11 references; and June 1, 2010: contract management and software to assist with 10 references.).

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2 responses to “Strange effort by a tiny law department to market its customized contract management system”

  1. In the course of my career at Microsoft, when I wasn’t in the legal department I ran three products (at different times). These ranged from shrinkwrap software to highly customized specialty products (Microsoft actually has a small number of these).
    The support burden for each of these was a significant factor — not just call-in-type customer support, but bug fixes, compatibility changes, retests, patches, and so on. I can’t imagine Ladbrokes is prepared to handle support at this level.

  2. John Ogden says:

    Hi Rees –
    I share your initial reaction to the bespoke aspect but wonder if the scale of what’s necessary for a 4 atty legal dept may make this do-able – if a quality product can be developed at the right price-point.
    Best, – John –