Complaints prompt Law Soc IT guide

The Law Society is to issue a set of guidelines on buying IT for law firms.

The guide, which will be distributed in October, comes in response to increasing dissatisfaction with suppliers' services and a call for greater supplier accountability.

Richard Blasdale, IT consultant at Robson Rhodes, said: "The increasing amount of complaints which were indicated in our survey earlier this year proves that there is clearly a problem which needs to be addressed as more legal firms are being rated on the quality of needs to their clients."

Christina Archbold, IT adviser at the Law Society, said: "We initially wanted to set out a common code of practice for IT suppliers in response to the increasing amount of complaints we were receiving, but it was decided the Law Society was not an appropriate body to administer such a code. The guide was the next best thing."

John Wilde, managing director at AIM Professional, was

involved in putting recommendations forward for the guidelines. He said: "The most important aspect of the guidelines is to encourage law firms to be clearer about what they want."

He added: "It should be especially useful for the small law firms who do not have in-house IT specialists."

Sales director at Technology for Business Simon Hill said the firm recognised the need for greater client contact over the last three years. "We realised we needed to have people who were dedicated to maintenance of the systems and software rather than just looking after the accounts. I think generally partners are becoming more interested in computers as a fee earning device rather than as a necessary overhead."

Stuart Holden, managing director at Axxia Systems, said the firm had worked through most of the problems in customer relationships in the last five years . He added: "We especially make sure that all the hardware we supply is benchmarked and put through rigorous customer acceptance tests."