North East practice ploughs £600k into IT

Elizabeth Davidson reports

EVERY fee-earner at North East firm Jacksons is to have personal access to e-mail from September as part of an IT overhaul which has cost £600,000 to date.

The 20-partner commercial law firm is due to move from its Middlesbrough base to larger, more modern offices shortly before Christmas, and is undergoing an IT transformation in the process.

Jacksons' IT overhaul began a year ago when the firm appointed an IT manager, Carol Byrne, and installed Axxia's practice management system. The firm is currently installing software which will build a case management facility into the existing system.

Each of the firm's 55 fee earners already has personal access to a Windows 95 PC.

Marketing manager David Laud said that once the new software was installed, lawyers would be able to manage cases on the desktop from start to finish, and would be able to conduct searches for data on clients. He added that the overall aim was to have a paperless office "where possible".

Laud said the smallness of the firm was an advangage when setting up the IT systems, as it made for rapid decision-making.

In December, the 120-staff firm will move its headquarters from its Middlesbrough home in a row of Victorian terraces which it has occupied for more than 100 years to more modern and spacious premises in Stockton-on-Tees.

Jacksons, the first practice in the North East to develop its own Web site, led the recent ProNet North scheme to establish an Intranet system connecting firms in the area.

Steve Hillier, an IT consultant at BDO Stoy Hayward, was impressed by the firm's commitment to IT: "This firm is more advanced than some large City firms where not all the fee earners have PCs and so are unable to access e-mails or case management systems."

An article in The Lawyer 12 August 1997 about the ProNet North Intranet scheme incorrectly stated that the Intranet could be accessed via Jacksons' home page.