Bar Exams, BARBRI, Outsourcing, Technology, Westlaw

Thomson Reuters Exploring Sale of BAR/BRI, Will Acquire Pangea3

Hang onto your hats, your legal world is about to get rocked. At least behind the scenes.

Thomson Reuters, owner of West Publishing and BAR/BRI is selling BAR/BRI. The reports have been confirmed by people who are enrolled in BAR/BRI. They all received an email from the company tonight.

Above the Law obtained a copy of this stunning email containing the news….

Here’s the email from BAR/BRI that current students received this evening:

November 18, 2010

Dear BARBRI Student:

Yesterday, BARBRI’s parent company announced that it is exploring the possible sale of the BARBRI business.

The most important thing for you to know is that the BARBRI course you signed up for is exactly the BARBRI course we will deliver – regardless of who our parent company might be. The same faculty is teaching the course, the same bar exam experts are producing the outlines and practice questions, and the same dedicated attorneys and professionals are here to help you every step of the way.

This would not be the first time BARBRI has been sold. In 2001, Thomson purchased BARBRI from Harcourt, its first corporate parent. During that transition, BARBRI helped tens of thousands of students pass the bar exam. All of us at BARBRI, most of whom were here in 2001, plan to do the exact same thing should another transition occur.

This decision to sell is in no way related to BARBRI’s performance. BARBRI is the leading bar review course in the United States with over 40 years of experience, strong leadership and quality of service. Our parent company believes, however, that bar preparation no longer fits its long-term strategic vision, which is to provide intelligent information and workflow solutions to professionals.

If a sale occurs, our parent company will actively seek a buyer who will be a good fit for BARBRI – one that will help build upon BARBRI’s long track record of helping students make the transition from law student to lawyer.

If you have any questions, please contact your local BARBRI office at 888-3BARBRI (322-7274).

All of us at BARBRI look forward to helping you pass the bar exam – the first time.

Yours truly,

Mike Sims

Richard Conviser

While we were busy talking with sources about the possible reason for Thomson’s sale of this (we assumed) extremely profitable product, more news broke. The ABA Journal has the story:

Thomson announced Thursday evening that it is acquiring Indian legal process outsourcing company Pangea3 in a deal the Business Standard of India valued at between $35 million and $40 million.

Pangea3 is one of the largest legal outsourcing firms in India, with more than 650 employees and annual revenue in excess of $25 million, according to the Business Standard. A number of venture capitalists have invested in the company, including Silicon Valley’s Sequoia Capital which invested $7 million in 2007.

So Thomson wants out of the “preparing American attorneys” market, and in on the legal outsourcing market in India. ARE YOU SERIOUS? Now go back and read the BAR/BRI email, especially this line: “Our parent company believes, however, that bar preparation no longer fits its long-term strategic vision.”

That can’t be good. That simply cannot be a good sign that Thomson evidently thinks there is more money to be made from Indian lawyers doing American legal work than from training American lawyers to do American legal work.

I’m sure the BAR/BRI memo was accurate in regards to current BAR/BRI students. Everything will be fine, there will not be any changes, keep studying, and February will be here before you know it.

Other people inside BAR/BRI, however, feel that it’s the stiffer competition BAR/BRI has faced from Kaplan and others that is prompting the sale. Here’s the take from one of our sources:

Thomson Reuters has made the decision and announced via phone conference call yesterday to all BAR/BRI employees that it is actively seeking to sell the bar review course. No questions were permitted or taken from the shocked employees. Today BAR/BRI notified all its student reps that all is well, despite this stunning news, and that no one should worry or expect any loss of services. Nothing to fear but fear itself. Seems that while competition in this formerly locked down industry may be good for the student consumers, by having Kaplan and Themis enter the national marketplace, it has not been so good for BAR/BRI.

Either way, people concerned with the future long-term need for young American lawyers can’t be thrilled about this. Throwing your lot in with Pangea3, instead of the bar exam behemoth that is BAR/BRI, really says a lot about where you think the future is heading.

Thomson Reuters Acquires Indian Legal Outsourcing Co. Pangea3 [ABA Journal]

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