The Laserform users group being set up will be a lobby group as much as a traditional users' body, predicts James Mackintosh, former chair of the Society for Computers & Law.
Mackintosh recently chaired a meeting at the Law Society in London which was organised by the supplier of computer generated forms to establish a group. It was attended by more than 100 users. Also represented were Companies House, the Land Registry, the Lord Chancellor's Department and others responsible for documentation used in practices.
"What's new is that it is clearly regarded as important to be a lobby group as much as a user one," says Mackintosh. "It is encouraging to see the supplier working with everyone on an industry basis." Often user groups are established because of problems with a supplier.
Laserform managing director Barry Hawley-Green says Laserform has more than 850 users. "We felt it was essential to kick an independent users group into life," he says.
The user group would lead to feedback about products and highlight any problem areas, says Hawley-Green.
A four-strong steering committee was formed at the meeting and Hawley-Green says it is up to the group to decide how to structure itself.
SCL chair and independent consultant Neil Cameron, who also addressed the seminar, says the group will provide a strong and independent voice to represent users. Form providers can forget that the person filling in the form is the customer and not the person it is being returned to. With the move to less paper forms and more EDI, the group's formation was a "very positive step".
David Leather, practice secretary of City-based Stones Porter and one of the committee members, sees the role of the group as being to "help move the product forward and to make representations on behalf of users". He includes the suppliers of forms in this.