Simmons technology director jumps ship for Berrymans

Simmons & Simmons’ director of business transformation Abby Ewen, one of the best-known IT professionals in the UK legal market, has left the firm and joined Berrymans Lace Mawer as IT director.

Ewen is best known for being one of the key drivers behind Simmons’ launch in Bristol, an office specifically set up by the City firm to facilitate the handling of work at lower rates by providing back office support (3 April 2012).

The move was seen as giving a significant boost to the Bristol legal scene while also prompting rivals to consider how best to service low value work.

Earlier this year Simmons expanded the Bristol office, which opened its doors in September last year, by transferring more than a dozen support staff roles from London to the south west. Those roles include IT, finance and document production positions.

In total Ewen spent more than a decade iwth the firm. Between April 2006 and December 2009 she was the firm’s IT director while the last three years saw Ewen focus on the business transformation role that recognised, as she put it, “the need to be doing things differently”.

Her move to BLM comes as the insurance firm deals with the implications of the Jackson reforms and the march of insurers into the legal market. The firm is heavily reliant on technology to help it prop up profit margins in a practice area where clients are demanding cost efficiencies.

“BLM is a very different organisation to Simmons,” said Ewen. “The nature of many of the clients is different and there is more high-volume work, which lives and dies by technology. Simmons has a very different mix of work to BLM. Here if the technology doesn’t work, profits may be hit.”

Meanwhile Simmons confirmed that it has appointed Stuart Rowlands as its new global IT director.

Rowlands has held a number of senior IT roles at global institutions such as Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch and most recently, at RWE.

Commenting on the appointment, Simmons & Simmons’ managing partner, Jeremy Hoyland, said: ‘Stuart’s wealth of hands on experience will play an important role in driving forward our global IT initiatives.’’

Rowlands will join the firm on 15 April and will be located in the firm’s Bristol office.