When we started supplying computer systems for law firms in 1978, they were still surrounded by an aura of mystery cultivated by those who used them. Partners in firms knew little about their computer system other than it existed. General opinion was that it was a costly but necessary evil.
So when the first Barbican exhibition was held in 1984, it attracted computer experts, legal accountants or those who drew the short straw at the management committee meeting.
In 1995 the computer has become so pervasive that few homes or offices are without one. The main reason for this massive swell in the computer population is that the computer has been de-mystified. Much of the credit for that has to go to the Microsoft Windows interface. This product has relieved us of the task of remembering meaningless, cumbersome commands and replaced it with a standardised, graphical, intuitive method of using computers.
The result is that, although the 1984 Barbican show offered little of relevance or interest for most fee earners, the reverse is the case in 1995.
We believe the exhibition should no longer be only for those members of law firms with IT decision-making or purchasing power, but also for fee earners who want a look at what the best and most relevant software can do for them. Huge amounts of time and money have been put into the development of software which is directed towards helping fee earners directly. Our message to every solicitor is to check out the demystified software.
Ronnie Paton is managing director of Pilgrim Systems.