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Peppermint Technology

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Nottingham-based Peppermint Technology pioneers a cloud-based software platform that can transform the way legal service providers automate their operations, drive collaboration and deliver value to their clients. The single platform brings together all the business apps - financial, case and practice management, document management – used by a law firm, and underpins these with a powerful workflow and business rules engine.

“Law firms increasingly look to deliver high value and a great client experience, and not just billable hours,” says Arlene Adams, Peppermint’s founder and CEO. “Our software platform enables them to leverage technology to offer their services through a client-centric lens.”

With a background in the financial services and software industries, Arlene recognised the need for next generation legal services software following the Legal Services Act of 2007. The Act liberalises the market for legal services in England and Wales, encouraging competition and providing new routes for consumer complaints.

“It highlighted how backward the legal industry was in terms of the old-school technology being offered to them,” she explains. “The Legal Services Act was a wake-up call for law firms and made them sit up and realise that they have to change their way of working. There had been little incentive to shake things up and invest until then.”

In 2010, Arlene found a business and funding partner in Peter O’Hara and OLM Group, an esteemed former colleague who shared her vision for the industry, and set out to develop the Peppermint platform.

“We invited 12 law firms to tell us what ‘good’ would look like in terms of technology in their market,” says Arlene. “We then virtually hid away for two years to work on the product development. When word got out our competitors were convinced it wouldn’t work.”

Peppermint built the system on Microsoft Dynamics and SharePoint, and deliver this to their customers as a full SaaS solution via a private cloud using infrastructure backed by leading UK technology company Pulsant. “Using Microsoft’s technology was hugely reassuring for the earliest adopters,” says Arlene.

“Microsoft has already spent billions developing this excellent platform so it didn’t make sense to try and do this from scratch,” she explains. “The truly exciting thing about using this technology is the extent to which our customers can be assured that it will continue to advance, and in many cases lead, in tech innovation – it’s Microsoft’s flagship business platform. Also, it’s industry-standard – which means third-parties build additional applications to run on it as well. This is game-changing in the legal tech market and offers enormous development potential for the future.”

Launched in 2013, the Peppermint Cloud already supports 40 mid-sized and large law firms totalling over 5,000 users, and the company has grown to around 80 employees. In managing this growth, Arlene has looked to build a strong company culture while ensuring that its internal processes are constantly maturing.

“Businesses can really hit an inflection point once they pass the 50-person mark” she explains. “The primary thing is communication. You have to be constantly talking to your staff and engaging with them. Telling people about the challenges and make sure they realise that the contribution they are making really has an impact. As a CEO you have to be able to question yourself to make sure you’re doing enough and have lines of communications open to do this.”

In 2015, the business received a multi-million-pound investment from Scottish Equity Partners which it is using to ready its business for the years ahead, fine-tuning its customer implementation process and delivering the second generation of its Cloud service. It has also expanded its sales force and hired a senior executive team that has experience running companies of the size they aspire to be.

Arlene expects Peppermint will continue taking UK market share in the immediate years ahead, and will look to overseas expansion beyond that.

“We’ve had lots of interest from international firms but we want to make sure we’re doing things extremely well here first,” she explains. “Brexit has introduced uncertainty for doing business abroad, but it’s important that we as business leaders channel our energies into things we can control and don’t talk ourselves into a recession. We have to embrace technology if we are to survive and thrive, and that is what our focus should be.”