IT Directors’ Forum

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Converge TS and Manchester Law Society jointly hosted their quarterly IT Directors’ Forum on Wednesday 19th November 2014 at Room Restaurant. The event attracted 20 of the region’s key IT Director’s and proved to be a fantastic success. The forum was founded in 2013 by Nigel Wright, Converge TS MD, in response to a growing demand from NW IT managers for a platform for best practice discussion on the use of IT in law firms.

 

The discussion was wonderfully chaired by the experienced Richard Hodkinson, Chief Technology Officer, DWF and focussed on the following subjects:

 

  • How to choose and implement the right case management solution?

 

  • Cloud, hybrid or on-premise?

 

  • Data security challenges

 

A brief outline of the key points for discussion:

 

1. How to choose and implement the right case management solution?

 

  • Understanding what your people need should always come first, then the process analysis and then the technology.

 

  • Get buy in from all staff, particularly the management team before you begin the process of selecting a case management application.

 

  • IT staff should educate key stakeholders and agree outputs prior to project sign off, particularly how it will change the workflow and work practices.

 

  • Pick a cross section of people from the firm so you have representation from a variety of perspectives.

 

  • Some lawyers may struggle with the project process – explain that implementing a case management application is similar to managing a complex litigation case for one of your clients.

 

  • 9 out of 10 technologies work, technology project failure is usually due to either poor planning, lack of buy in at the management team level or post implementation training is inadequate.

 

  • Spend time analysing the reporting side of the system, this will allow you to monitor how your “fee earners” deliver.

 

2. Cloud, hybrid or on-premise? 

 

  • The cloud is in essence, pay on demand IT, this means you can pay for what you use and scale up or down when you need to, to meet changing market needs.

 

  • The private v public cloud debate continues but guidance from the Law Society and SRA is clear that private is currently the right method to deploy.

 

  • Benefits include improved access, productivity, built in business continuity and it is a much more flexible platform than an on premise solution.

 

  • There are still some lingering fears around loss of control and security.

 

  • The hybrid model is currently the primary option for larger firms, with some key applications hosted off site such as CRM, while retaining the bulk of systems on site – however this is moving towards the cloud quickly.

 

  • The right cloud provider will meet all of your IT compliance needs as standard so that you can get on with running the firm.

 

  • A consensus believed that within 3-5 years 80% of law firms will have moved to the cloud, it is the business model of the future.

 

  • All felt that cloud would proliferate within law firms both large and small and was not a passing fad.

 

3. Data security challenges.

 

  • Law firms typically are in possession of a stockpile of sensitive data relating to client data. Despite warnings, the legal industry is still lagging behind when it comes to data protection.

 

  • Clients are going to ask what your data security looks like, so it makes sense to perform a thorough review of your firm and identify gaps where data breaches can take place.

 

  • Breaches can happen, it is therefore important to implement the right systems and processes to enable your firm to respond quickly and efficiently should they occur. Have a “Breach Response Plan” in place.

 

  • Many organisations around the world are certified to ISOI 27001, this is something your firm should be considering.

 

 

“Richard was fantastic and knowledgeable. It was useful hearing about the issues the industry is facing”

Andrew Wallace – Lees Solicitors

 

“I found it useful to see the breadth of experience and size of firms present with different perspectives on common problems to us all.”

Naeem Dean – Croftons Solicitors

 

“The forum was structured, no waffle, good group size and knowledgeable attendees. It was great to hear IT being talked about as a commercial / operational business process function”

Paul Davies – Add People

 

Chair led with input and experiences from people around the table, great event, and well organised “

Ged Chadwick – JMW

 

We will be hosting IT Directors’ Forums across the country in 2015, if you would like more information please click here.