The Lawyer Management: Howard Kennedy

My key responsibilities can be summarised as: ensuring the availability of IT systems for 24-hour BAU (business as usual) operation in a secure and integral fashion; and maintaining awareness of technical advances and regulatory changes.


 

Describe your role

My key responsibilities can be summarised as: ensuring the availability of IT systems for 24-hour BAU (business as usual) operation in a secure and integral fashion; and maintaining awareness of technical advances and regulatory changes.

 In what ways have you improved the efficiency of your firm?

These range from firmwide changes such as an ‘infrastructure refresh’ incorporating a remote desktop working environment (that proved useful during the snow last year) to the halving of a monthly process from two days to less than one. This was time saved for an equity partner.

We have a number of initiatives planned for release this year, including improved deeds and key dates management systems, and an electronic matter file project.

What’s in your in-tray?

An array of projects forming a two-year strategy encompassing infrastructure and core application updates.

 

What was the most pressing issue you faced last year and how did you resolve it?

We switched from a traditional partnership model to an LLP. Once the ‘go’ was received we had a limited time to complete the process, so timing was important. In addition to the conversion and the usual matters that a legal IT team has to deal with, the firm was also working to bring onboard a small new fee-earning team. To resolve this a core team held regular meetings and, with a collaborative effort using coordinated resources from across the firm, completed the conversion from partnership to an LLP in only two months.

What are the most significant external issues that have an impact on your role at the moment?

We’re reviewing our IT strategy for the next two years. This involves discussions around issues such as cloud computing, ITaaS (IT as a Service) and BYOD (bring your own device). All spending is under scrutiny to ­ensure it’s appropriate.

What impact are the structural changes to the legal market having on your firm and your role?

None directly, but through its Aiming for Excellence initiative the firm is ­reviewing all aspects of itself in light of changes to the market. This has ­increased the number of meetings that I’m attending and is providing the IT team with a full pipeline of projects.

 

What impact, if any, do you anticipate these changes having?

Compliance, and by implication risk management, will increasingly influence what is required of IT systems.

Describe the management structure of your organisation

We have a CEO who sits on the management committee along with a small number of equity partners, the head of practice management and the finance director. Heads of all support teams report to the head of practice management.

Which board/s do you sit on?

None, but I sit on a number of committees with a firmwide reach, such as objectives and initiatives, and social media. I’m also on the KnowLegal forum’s executive advisory panel.

 

Who do you report to?

The head of practice management.

 

Who’s in your core team?

The technical manager, service desk supervisor, systems support engineer and two IT support engineers.

 

What problem would you most like technology to solve?

An interesting question as inappropriate technology frequently creates more problems than it solves. IT can be a great enabler for ‘greener living’, but most of the technology for this is still relatively expensive.

 

What’s the most important lesson your role has taught you?

You can learn more if you listen with your ears and not with your mouth.

Matt Byrne

Financials

Turnover: £29.5m

Earnings per partner:£178,000

Profit per equity partner:£250,000

Top of equity:£526,000

Bottom of equity:£114,000

Revenue per lawyer:£244,000

 

Technology

“We have an IT infrastructure using NetApp-based replicated storage and operate a mostly virtualised server environment,” says Sutton. “This underpins applications such as BigHand Digital Dictation, remote desktop-based on VMWare technology – we believe we were the first firm in the world to have digital dictation and transcription working on VMWare’s VDI – Mimecast archive and Copitrak cost recovery.”

 

Systems

PMS: Elite

DMS: Worldox GX