Standing by truth in the law
Business View interviews Gary Buckland, CEO of Lexitas, for our focus on Technology & Professional Services
Acquisitions, mergers, and re-brands are part and parcel of corporate life – something that the legal and corporate services firm Lexitas understands better than most.
Originally known as DepoTexas, the company changed its name to ensure national reach. In order to scale the business more effectively, DepoTexas hired a branding firm in 2016 to come up with a new name. They hit upon Lexitas, made up of “Lex,” the Latin word for law, and “Veritas,” which means truth. The company stands by the truth of spoken testimony before the law in everything it does. This was the next stage of a long journey for the firm.
“In 2015, Trinity Hunt Partners from Dallas, Texas invested in a company called Deposition Solutions, which was a court reporting company that went under the name DepoTexas,” Gary Buckland, CEO of Lexitas, recounts. “They reached out to me to see if I wanted to be a board member and, ultimately, I came on board to run the company. So, even though DepoTexas started in 1987, Lexitas became the type of company it is today in 2015.”
Court reporting and medical record retrieval represent Lexitas’ two primary offerings, but the company offers additional services as well – in part due to its ongoing acquisition of innovative players in the sector. “We made eight acquisitions from 2015 to November 2019,” Buckland says. “But since the company was acquired by Apax Partners three years ago, we’ve completed an additional 25 acquisitions.”
Apax, a large private equity company, has enabled Lexitas to scale its ‘buy-and-build model’. Since then, Lexitas has tripled its revenue, tripled its EBITDA, and gone from 434 employees in 2019 to 1,180 today – as well as adding over 3,000 independent contractors. Since making its recent acquisitions, Lexitas has also grown from roughly 16 locations to 65 locations across the country. “The recipe to our success, is finding outstanding businesses in our space; entrepreneurs who have taken their business, grown it, focused on creating a great company culture, and prioritized customer service,” Buckland says. “We’ve really focused on getting the very best firms to join our organization.”
Outstanding customer service is what sets Lexitas apart from competitors in the space. In that regard, the company’s expansion hasn’t come about purely as a result of acquisitions, it has also been developed from within. “It’s not about the numbers,” Buckland continues. “It’s about the people and the talent that we’re bringing on board. It’s about individuals that buy into our vision.”
In terms of its clients, Lexitas also benefits substantially from its strong focus on relationship building. “Whether it’s our sales organization, our operations team, or our case managers, we really want to make sure we maintain our relationships with clients,” Buckland adds. “With legal services, the trust factor is so important. There has to be confidence in us as a company that we can provide clients with the data and information they need to be effective. It takes time to build this trust, so the customer relationship is the top priority.”
Like many organizations, Lexitas has faced a significant challenge finding and retaining talent over the last two years – one that has been particularly pronounced with its hourly workers. As steady acquirers, Lexitas is fortunate that it retains some hugely talented individuals during the acquisition process. “We’re continuously building out our leadership team and developing the core employees that interface with customers,” Buckland says. “But, of course, there are still holes within our organization and, from time to time, we even have to use external recruiters.”
Lexitas’ legal talent outsourcing is specifically geared towards legal talent – attorneys and paralegals that will work within corporations to help bolster their internal general counsel office, contract outsourcing, or document review projects. There is an abundance of attorneys that gravitate towards this work and Lexitas’ recruiters help find them. “We also have a range of in-house training on offer,” Buckland notes. “We have Lexitas University, for example, which includes over 300 courses to provide whatever training our employees may need.”
A major part of this training revolves around reinforcing Lexitas’ core values, which can be summed up in the acronym: SPIRITED. It stands for service excellence, positivity, innovation, respect, initiative, teamwork, ethics, and diversity.
These values certainly help when Lexitas is reaching out to potential new clients, but the company also has a large professional sales team that is trained in cross-selling. “If, for example, we are visiting a client that is interested in medical record retrieval, our sales professionals can talk with authority on all the services we offer, some of which the client may typically already be buying from someone else,” Buckland comments. “Our biggest driver of organic growth has been referrals, which is accomplished by providing great customer service.”
Of course, even with its plethora of talented individuals, whether trained or hired, Lexitas still faced significant challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote solutions were essential for the company given it largely dealt with customer-facing processes. Depositions typically took place in one of Lexitas’ conference rooms with the witness, court reporter, videographer, attorney, and opposing counsel all sitting together. Through COVID-related court closures, it took three to four months for some legal professionals to adopt remote depositions after the court started offering remote hearings.
“We went from 95% of our business being in-person to nothing being in-person, almost overnight,” Buckland says. “We have a patented technology that we used for our remote depositions, so we have continued to utilize this technology and strongly believe that it’s here to stay. There’s such trust in doing depositions remotely now, that a significant amount will continue taking place via this channel.”
Lexitas also acquired a case tracking company by the name “eLaw” that allows law firms and individual attorneys to proactively manage their caseloads. This type of technology has helped attorneys save time, ensure they never miss an appearance, and track case outcomes.
The many acquisitions that Lexitas is involved in could lead to some confusion for new and existing customers. However, the company has a branding strategy that ensures an acquired business can still reach all its clients, includes the reasoning behind the acquisition, and conveys the types of benefits it will deliver from a resource perspective. Typically, any acquisition’s brand transition is a gradual process, where companies don’t change their brand until Lexitas is 100% confident that it won’t provide any disruption to clients.
In addition to branding, Lexitas also has to have a robust compliance strategy. Particularly, as it operates across multiple states. “We have to be up-to-date at all times,” Buckland admits. “We have people in place monitoring both state and federal laws whether it applies to court reporting, medical record retrieval, or our subpoena process. If you don’t follow the rules to the letter, as listed by state or federal law, you are putting your client at risk of having their cases thrown out, or facing financial penalties.”
Looking three to five years down the line, the main trend on the horizon is the accelerated adaptation of technologies over and beyond what was typically present prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Buckland shares, “I’m extremely excited from a software perspective about what we can develop internally to make our clients’ jobs more efficient and make us even better at what we do. So, the biggest industry change that I’ve seen has undoubtedly been on the legal tech side.”
The technological developments have led Lexitas to explore the potential of utilizing external tools as opposed to the company’s traditional methods of simply acquiring new companies. There are a variety of legal tech firms that could supercharge Lexitas services and enhance its existing IT services team. “Since the pandemic, our clients realize more than ever that legal technology is an efficient, cost-effective way of continuing their work,” Buckland acknowledges. “Our business isn’t complicated, but it is extremely complex. Legal technology helps streamline some of this complexity.”
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