City firm takes Windows route

Helen Sage reports

City firm Titmuss Sainer Dechert claims it is the first law firm to have migrated to Windows 95.

Since the firm's upgrade programme began in June this year, 90 of its administrative staff have switched smoothly from Wordperfect for DOS to Word 7.0 and Windows 95.

The contract, carried out by consultants Anthony Cook Associates is expected to exceed £50,000 when the current programme ends this month.

Andrew Richardson, project manager at Titmuss Sainer Dechert, said, "We had a very archaic system called WPS (nicknamed Whoops), which needed updating. Windows 95 arrived at the right time. Windows 3.1 is now a dead product and it is good for us to be at the forefront of new technology."

The document management system Mezzanine Views lies at the heart of the firm's communications programme and the migration strategy to Windows 95 has been designed to take account of this.

"Lawyers generally perceive themselves to have special technology needs from the norm," said Richardson. "I don't see why we have any need for specific systems.

"For us the priority is to use what the majority of our clients are using and at the moment Windows 95 seems to be taking the lead."

Last week Microsoft announced that 7 million units of Windows 95 had been bought worldwide since its launch.

Steve Jenkins, marketing manager at Anthony Cook & Associates, said: "A handful of law firms are taking an interest in Windows 95, but it is a big commitment to make if you already have a reasonable system. Titmuss Sainer Dechert was lucky because it missed out on the evolutionary stage and so it was viable for them to launch straight into the migration of a new system."

Andy Wilmot, client accounts manager at Technology for Business, a leading supplier of legal technology, said as more fee earners require screens on their desks, law firms will be making the transition to Windows.

"The move towards Windows is stronger than ever. There still seem to be a few problems and so most law firms will leave their options open for a while and learn from others' mistakes," he said.

Colin Dyckes of legal IT suppliers Legis, said: "For the top 100 law firms it is a priority to be at the forefront of technology in order to keep up with client needs. Windows 95 is,therefore, certainly an option for them.

"The middle-sized and smaller firms are rightly hesitant about going down the trail-blazing path of the media hype.

"For smaller firms, however, a Windows environment which needs very little support, is ideal and maybe we will see sole practitioners opting for Windows 95 before the middle-sized firms," he said.