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NATIONAL POST: Dye & Durham is alive and well and living on data

May 30, 2017 2:16 PM ET
Author: Mitch Kowalski
Toronto lawyer Mitch Kowalski is author of Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century.
[email protected]
 Resurrection stories in legal services are rare.

So I was intrigued to learn that Dye & Durham, a name most Canadian lawyers associate with a 140-year-old stationery and office supplies company is methodically turning itself into a legal technology company.
In fact, I was intrigued enough to also take part in a Dye & Durham road show that criss-crossed Alberta this past January.

The company’s metamorphosis began in the spring of 2016 when OneMove Technologies Inc., provider of conveyancing software econveyance, which is popular in Western Canada, acquired Dye & Durham.

OneMove’s strategic vision is to create a single web-based gateway for lawyers who prepare routine documents, and conduct searches, filings and registrations anywhere in Canada – all under the Dye & Durham brand.
Matthew Proud, Dye & Durham’s chief executive, said the company has two business lines: a data services side, which provides data in an automated fashion; and a workflow side, which automates document production to free up people to do higher value tasks. “When we put them together it’s a very powerful solution for Canadian lawyers.”

Currently, none of its main competitors, Thomson Reuters’ Cyberbahn, and ESC Corporate Services, have added a workflow and document automation element to their offerings. Proud said this gives Dye & Durham a competitive advantage.

The importance of technology to Dye & Durham’s future is readily apparent. Although the company has 200 employees across Canada, 85 per cent of its revenue comes from automated processes in which no human is involved. Office supplies, which historically accounted for 100 per cent of Dye & Durham’s revenue, now makes up less than one per cent.
Earlier this year, Dye & Durham acquired OnCorp to take its automated capability across Canada.

Unlike other legal technology companies that focus on building new and better technology, Dye & Durham has taken a roll-up approach: buy what customers are already using, create a new user interface, improve it, then add that solution to its “e-market,” a comprehensive and truly pan-Canadian suite of web applications for Canadian legal professionals.
Adrian Turchet, vice president of marketing and corporate development, said Dye & Durham’s goal is not to take away the role of the legal professionals, but rather to determine, “how we can use technology to help people simplify their processes.”

Canadian legal professionals have traditionally used legal technology applications from a diverse set of vendors (not all of which are web-based), requiring users to toggle in and out each application to complete legal work. Canada has yet to see, to borrow from Tolkien, “one ring to rule them all.” As a result, Dye & Durham’s e-market seeks to be a complete “law firm in a box” for Canadian legal professionals.

But Dye & Durham’s focus is not solely on Canada. Its real estate application for the United Kingdom is already used in 10 per cent of the U.K.’s real estate transactions. The company also sees massive opportunity in the United States. 

The new look Dye & Durham and its strategic vision should be particularly welcomed by small firms and solo practices who service hyper-cost conscious clients. Reducing the number of human touches on a legal file not only allows firms to achieve greater scale and reduce errors, it also saves time and money – making for happier clients and happier employees.
Toronto lawyer Mitch Kowalski is author of Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century.
[email protected]