The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Yves Faguy

Axiom comes to Canada

January 15 2016 15 January 2016

News this week that Axiom is expanding into Canada by acquiring Cognition LLP’s general counsel practice should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the trajectory of these two alternative legal service providers.

According to Cognition LLP co-founder Joe Milstone (pictured above), both firms from their inception have shared the same mission to rid the legal marketplace of inefficiencies.  “We joke that it’s like we were separated at birth 10 years ago.”

Over the years, Axiom and Cognition have come to know each other well, having regularly referred clients to one another. 

For Axiom, having expanded its business into other markets – namely the UK and Asia – it was a matter of time before it would set up shop in Canada. With 50 lawyers mostly based in Toronto (5 in Calgary), Cognition was the ideal fit.

 “Joe and [Cognition co-founder Rubsun Ho] have pioneered this concept in Canada,” says Will McKinnon, Axiom’s senior vice president of new market development. “They did a lot of the hard work for us.”

McKinnon further adds that the Canadian legal marketplace is ripe for the type of disruption that outfits like Axiom aim to achieve.  “Canadian companies are more progressive than many other international markets,” he says.

Over the last decade, general counsel have discovered that there are choices out there for getting legal work done, he adds. That includes using anything from pure technological products to offshoring services to providing in-house legal services on a temporary basis, as Cognition has been doing.  

GCs, McKinnon says, are being measured on their ability to make those choices.

How will traditional law firms react to the acquisition? “We probably got their attention,” says Milstone, “particularly in an economy not flourishing with transactions and deals.”

The plan now is to continue to grow Axiom’s client base, says McKinnon, starting with clients who have operations in Canada but that are not in Cognition’s book of business.

And being a technology company Axiom will be rolling out its most recent products in Canada such as a technological platform that helps clients with contract management and negotiation.

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