Law firms slammed over lack of IT nous

DuPont, Cable & Wireless, Equitas point to poor response from legal advisers

A panel of three in-house lawyers has denounced the ability of law firms to offer innovative IT solutions.

Counsel at DuPont, Cable & Wireless and Equitas stated at the LegalTech conference that they had never been proactively offered assistance with technology solutions from their law firms.

All three said they had asked their firms to adopt new technology but that proactive IT advice from them was non-existent, despite law firms generally having a much larger IT budget than that of in-house legal departments.

Group general counsel at Cable & Wireless Dan Fitz suggested that if firms have been forced to implement new technology by clients, they should market it to others.

“It's so rare that it would be most welcome if you were to offer something new,” said Julie Mazza, corporate counsel at DuPont.

One UK law firm IT manager in the audience said: “The problem we have is persuading partners to take on systems. They're not interested until they've heard that several other firms have something that they don't. Fee-earners just don't read emails regarding new technology.”

The news comes as a shock to those firms with close relationships with the three companies. Eversheds advises DuPont, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advises Equitas and Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw, Shaw Pittman and Simmons & Simmons work with Cable & Wireless. While some firms rallied to say that their clients could not possibly be talking about them, others chose not to comment.

A spokesperson for Simmons said: “We have an online resource called Elexica. It has a vast quantity of knowhow, which no other firm can offer.”

“I believe that Julie Mazza was very much speaking from a US perspective. Our very first extranet was for DuPont and it was designed with them,” said an Eversheds spokesperson.

Shaw Pittman managing partner Paul Mickey commented: “Using technology to improve client service is one of the themes I've been most interested in during my tenure as managing partner.”