Northern firm aims for paperless office

Helen Sage reports

Rotherham-based firm, Oxley & Coward is setting up a pilot scheme of seven networked PCs in September in a bid to streamline its office.

The initiative was taken after two Oxleys partners, John Yates and Rosemary Downs, visited US law firms in the spring.

The pair were particularly impressed by Boston-based firm Morse, Barnes-Brown & Pendleton. Despite having only five partners, the firm is so highly computerised that it has no secretaries, books or paper files.

Yates says: "This practice was unique and amazing to see. Such a system meant the firm was highly efficient with virtually no overheads. It was a real inspiration to us."

Oxleys is one of only a few small provincial UK firms to embrace the use of IT.

Yates, who came to the firm in 1992 to set up its IT arm, is anxious for Oxleys to keep in touch with IT developments in the law.

He says: "In three years' time email will be as prevalent as faxes and computers and will be used to deal with all forms of business. Clients are already beginning to realise this and so Oxleys is responding to their needs."

The seven PCs will be used by partners, support staff and fee earners.

Yates says: "We want the benefits of the system to permeate into every area of our work so that we can achieve a cultural change in the office."