Paradigm, the parent company to four legal practice management and payments products — PracticePantherBill4Time, MerusCase and Headnote — today adds a fifth, as it acquires TrustBooks, the cloud-based accounting software built specifically for law firms.

With this acquisition, Paradigm adds legal accounting to a product line-up that already includes three separate all-in-one practice management platforms and the electronic payments solution Headnote.

Adding accounting to its current product lineup of practice management and e-payments is “the trifecta of what law firms need to manage and grow their practices,” Paradigm CEO Soumya Nettimi told me in an interview this week. “You can come to Paradigm and do everything you need to run your firm.”

CEO Soumya Nettimi

“Our philosophy is really around two things,” Nettimi said. “One is listening to our customers and addressing their needs first and foremost, and then reacting to what they’re asking for. Number two, we want to be that one-stop shop for law firms to be able to go to one place for all of their technology needs.”

TrustBooks will remain a standalone product but its accounting tools will also be integrated into Paradigm’s other products.

This is similar to how Paradigm assimilated Headnote into its product line-up after acquiring that company in September 2020. While Headnote remains a standalone product, its technology was adapted to create native e-payments features in PracticePanther and Bill4Time.

TrustBooks’ cofounders Tom Boyle and Chad Todd will remain with the company, as will all their employees.

“TrustBooks has a really solid, loyal, dedicated customer base that we want to continue to serve with more features, more customer support, and more resources,” Nettimi said. “Then the second piece is offering the TrustBooks technology to all of Paradigm’s existing customers and prospective new customers in the way that will help them get their accounting needs done as simply and easily as possible.”

Making A Dent

Todd said that he and Boyle had been approached several times over the years about being acquired, but that none of those offers felt like the right fit until Paradigm came calling.

“We were looking for a leadership team that we shared a vision with — the vision to dominate with great simple software and rule the industry for what we’re trying to do,” Todd said. “We also wanted a team that shared our culture. Paradigm feels like us, just bigger — it feels like I’ve been part of the family forever.”

TrustBooks cofounders Chad Todd and Tom Boyle.

By joining with Paradigm, TrustBooks gains the opportunity to “make a big dent” in legal accounting, he said.

“Accounting doesn’t have to be scary — it doesn’t have to be difficult and you don’t have to shy away from it,” Todd said. “With the right tool and the right team supporting it, you can take something difficult and scary and make it simple and easy to do. We want to change the face of legal accounting.”

When it launched in 2014, TrustBooks was created specifically for trust accounting, providing a cloud-based platform designed to make trust accounting simple and foolproof for small- and mid-sized firms. In a review of TrustBooks I wrote in 2016, I described it as “trust accounting made simple and painless.”

In January 2021, TrustBooks expanded its platform to add operating accounting, enabling law firms to manage both their operating and trust accounts with a single product.

Following the November 2021 acquisition by MyCase of the legal accounting company Soluno, TrustBooks was the last standalone company devoted to law firm accounting. But cofounder Boyle said that independent spirit will continue, only with more resources to back it up.

“The vision is that we’re going to continue to be that independent, free-standing accounting platform,” Boyle said. “We’re just going to be able to pour some gasoline onto the resources that we have to serve our customer base.

“I don’t think that there’s a flip of the switch and all of a sudden and we’re not going to be able to serve and provide that kind of independent legal accounting platform. We’re just going to have the ability to do it with a lot more resources at our back and from all angles.”

Investment and Expansion

Originally called ASG LegalTech, Paradigm was formed by Alpine SG (ASG), a software platform company backed by Alpine Investors. It began by acquiring Bill4Time in 2017, followed by PracticePanther in 2018, MerusCase in 2019, and Headnote in 2020. 

In October 2021, it was acquired by Francisco Partners, a major investment firm that specializes in investments in technology businesses.

Earlier this month, Paradigm announced the expansion of its leadership team with the hiring of two executives, one who will oversee product management and the other marketing.

Joining Paradigm as vice president of product management is Marie Burgess, who was previously senior director of project management at Aderant. Joining as vice president of marketing is Mayowa Oyebadejo, who was most recently project leader at Boston Consulting Group.

Nettimi said the acquisition of TrustBooks fits well with the company’s overall mission.

“It fits with the ethos of everything we’ve done at Paradigm, which is trying to make things as all-in-one and one-stop-shop as possible, trying to keep things as easy to use as possible, and continuing to serve the kind of great customer base that all of these acquisitions have come with, while giving them more and more over time.”