Marsh & McLennan announced on May 18th that it would acquire Kroll, provider of electronic evidence services via KrollOntrack. It will be interesting to see what impact, if any, this has on the litigation support and electronic evidence market. 

Identical press releases (Marsh and Kroll) provide detail, as do articles in today’s issues of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. According the press release, “[t]he transaction will broaden significantly the range of MMC’s risk and insurance services businesses and enhance its leadership position in risk management services. ”

Last summer, Lexis acquired Applied Discovery (see my prior blog post for details). That acquisition was presumably motivated by Lexis’ interest in expanding the services it offers in the legal market. In contrast, I would guess that the discovery and electronic evidence services that Kroll offers were, at best, a minor factor in Marsh’s acquisition.

Kroll, with 2003 revenue just shy of $500 million, was already a fairly large company for a legal vendor. It’s not obvious the added heft of Marsh adds value in its own right. So it will be interesting to see how KrollOntrak fares under new ownership. One concern – and I am no expert here – is conflicts. It’s possible that Marsh’s far-flung business dealings will create more conflicts for KrollOntrak than it would otherwise have had.

Since I first studied the litigation support market in 1989, it has been highly fragmented. A 2003 survey (PDF) of the electronic evidence discovery market by George Socha confirms that this is still true. In the 1990s, before the age of digital discovery, my recollection is that Uniscribe and Merrill attempted “roll ups” of litigation support vendors. My impression is that these roll ups were not smashing successes.

With two large corporations standing behind electronic evidence vendors now, it will be interesting to see if the supply side of the market changes or consolidates.