Firms woo experts to boost IT strategies

NORTON Rose head of IT Brian Powell is to leave the firm to join Barlow Lyde & Gilbert.

The move is the latest in a rash of IT appointments among the larger commercial firms and coincides with Cameron McKenna's appointment of a new director of IT, Phillip Rooke, currently IT director at Hay Management Consultants.

Powell will take up the post of IT director at Barlow Lyde on 9 February and Norton Rose is yet to recruit a replacement for him.

He joined the firm three years ago and has overseen a period of rapid change.

Powell, who previously worked for Morgan Grenfell as head of IT, said: 'The firm had very little in technology when I joined but it moved very quickly.'

Norton Rose is currently installing the CMS Data practice management system linked to Smart Stream financial software from Geac, and is already using the Carpe Diem timesheet entry system.

Powell said he was leaving Norton Rose because the major changes had now taken place and he wanted to 'define and implement new strategy' at Barlow Lyde, which he said was ' investing in people and upgrading its technology' and will undergo a 'major change' in its IT systems.

Barlow Lyde uses the Precedent practice management system plus Lotus Notes communications software but it does not have a case management system.

Meanwhile, Rooke is presently negotiating his time of departure with Hay Management Consultants, but it is expected that he will join Camerons some time before the end of March.

Camerons managing partner Robert Derry-Evans said the firm had not specifically been looking for someone from a non-legal background but that it was 'positive' that Rooke had wider experience because it meant he brought with him 'a broader knowledge'.

He said Rooke would be adding his own ideas to the firm's existing strategy, as well as ensuring that it maintained a reliable and co-ordinated IT infrastructure at its London and overseas offices.

Rooke will not replace head of IT Andy Gilmore, who has occupied the position since September when Cameron McKenna's previous IT director, Ed Dean, left to join Lovell White Durrant.

Derry-Evans said of Dean's departure: 'Lovells now has an excellent IT director; we will soon have a great one.'

Camerons uses Elite practice management software and a 'know-how' system called Freia, which the firm developed in-house.