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Lawyer Staffing Firm Axiom Takes PE Money, Drops IPO Plans

Sept. 5, 2019, 6:12 PM

Lawyer staffing company Axiom announced it has received an investment from private equity firm Permira Funds and has scrapped its pursuit of a public offering.

The size of the investment from Permira was not disclosed. The company said its current management team, led by CEO Elena Donio, will remain in their current roles.

It has been about eight months since a corporate reorganization at Axiom. The company in February spun off two business lines and announced it had filed paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to pursue an initial public offering.

The company had a number of alternatives to an IPO and ultimately decided Permira was a “superior option” for growing its business, Donio told Bloomberg Law. Had it gone public, Axiom would have been a rare publicly-traded legal business, but Donio said the decision to take private equity investment was not due to Wall Street reluctance.

“This was not an issue of interest level at all,” Donio said. “It was much more about the needs of Axiom and having an opportunity to run the plays we want to run with fresh investment and aligned time periods across our investor base and leadership team.”

The investment comes amid a shifting competitive landscape in the legal industry. Law firms are increasingly competing with so-called alternative legal service providers like Axiom for client business.

Axiom is not the only alternative service provider to win private equity cash recently. UnitedLex, which also provides legal staffing, received a majority investment from CVC Capital Partners roughly a year ago.

Another competitor in the space, Elevate Services, raised $25 million in June from Kayne Partners and said it aims for a 2021 public stock offering.

Axiom’s Goals

The investment will help Axiom expand and develop a technology platform to identify and match companies with talent, the company said in a statement. It will also allow the company to expand its sales team.

Axiom has said it has a roster of more than 2,000 lawyers and works with over half of the Fortune 100.

Donio declined to comment on the terms of the deal, which is set to close in the fourth quarter of this year. She said Axiom is a profitable business that will look to “digitize” its history of placing lawyers at large companies to more quickly identify opportunities to onboard talent and clients. The company will also consider acquisitions, the CEO said.

“What is really important to us is that our bespoke data, insight, and knowledge gets utilized to the best benefit of our clients and lawyers,” Donio said.

Permira, which also has an investment in LegalZoom, manages roughly $47 billion in capital.

“Permira’s philosophy is to back category-defining brands, where a technology-led thesis can unlock tremendous value,” Permira partner Dipan Patel said in a statement. “Axiom created the category for on-demand legal talent for the enterprise and is now taking action to enhance its technology and expand its offerings for its unique, global community of lawyers and clients.”

Cooley served as legal advisor to Axiom while Goldman Sachs & Co. served as the company’s financial advisor.

The Permira funds were advised by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and financial advisors BofA Merrill Lynch and Barclays.

Weil Gotshal & Manges represented Barclays, which provided committed financing for the deal.

To contact the reporter on this story: Roy Strom in Chicago at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at; Rebekah Mintzer at