Legal software vies for market share

MANCHESTER personal injury firm Alexander Harris has piloted a new case and practice management system, which has now been sold to London litigation firm Kennedys and launched on the legal marketplace.

Altrincham-based computer supplier Jonathan Beck Associates (JBA) has been implementing its Carydan software at 28-fee earner firm Alexander Harris for the past three months, and the system finally went live last week.

London firm Kennedys has bought the system for 255 fee earners and will implement the system in January.

JBA previously supplied software to accountancy firms.

Alexander Harris managing partner Ann Alexander said her firm had previously used a case management system designed by Jonathan Beck, but asked the company to design a practice management system so that she could access more information.

Beck said prices varied, but an eight-user system would cost u16,000, although prices varied according to the number of users.

JBA launched Carydan at the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers' (Apil) Autumn conference in Birmingham last month.

JBA managing director Jonathan Beck said he had felt there was a "gap in the market" for a new legal software supplier.

Beck said: "There are a lot of systems out there but a major fault with them is they are over-complicated."

He added: "Our software is easy to use, shows dis bursement expenditure, time recording, available legal aid funds and time spent on the case, and will be specifically designed to accommodate the Woolf reforms."

But rival computer companies say the legal software marketplace is already too crowded and have expressed surprise at the new competitor company, which employs only eight full-time staff.

Bill Kirby, sales director of software supplier Axxia Systems, said: "We have seen a number of new entrants fail to sustain the continuous development and support that legal accounting demands."

Software supplier Peapod Solutions (managing director Ian Wimbush) warned: "The legal software marketplace is a tough market to crack, particularly since the Law Society issued its guide to software suppliers last month."