Merge pulls Caesars into IT age

Alison Laferia reprots

Scottish firm Caesar & Howie says it has "revolutionised working practices" through a substantial investment in IT systems.

The company has worked with Merge Management, which was set up by solicitors, over two years to design conveyancing, executory and estate agency management systems. It won a TSB Business of Law award for its IT systems in March.

Managing partner David Borrowman said that computerisation had dramatically reduced the firm's costs. "We are now saving a very substantial amount year by year," he said.

The company's estate agency costs are down by 35 per cent in the last 18 months, with fee output staying the same. Staff in the department were cut from 42 to 19 and are still processing the same amount of work.

"The developments have not been without opposition, but the economic effects are so substantial that you can't really ignore them," said Borrowman.

Merge Management designs specialist software and offers an IT consultancy service to legal firms. The company is incorporated into Northern Ireland firm Francis Hanna & Co.

Senior partner Frank Hanna is chair and managing director of Merge Management. He said: "We are operating in a market where computer companies have, through their own greed, created a reputation which is undoubtedly costing them substantially.

"One of our motivations was to try, through our own credibility, to create an atmosphere of trust combined with quality of product."

Borrowman chose to use Merge Management because it had a good knowledge of the legal profession. "Merge understood the business, being solicitors themselves," he said.

He has now set his sights on computerising the court services and debt-collection systems. "It's been a long haul. We have put a lot of effort into it and it has undoubtedly been a great success.

"I am convinced that on the court side the effects are likely to be even more dramatic," said Borrowman.