Clyde & Co goes global

INTERNATIONAL firm Clyde & Co has developed a world-wide know-how system with the help of IBM to give its lawyers access to the firm's files via the Internet.

The system – an intranet based on an IBM server and containing an extensive database – has been up and running in Clyde & Co's London and Guildford offices since last month and is due to go live in the firm's Hong Kong office early next year.

The system has been developed in-house and will eventually be launched in its other offices.

Clyde & Co's 280 fee earners will be able to enter the database via any Internet link from whichever location they are in the world, gaining access to the firm's client files and knowledge bank.

Head of IT, Andy Wrightson, said the use of encryption technology and passwords would ensure security as far as possible – although encryption technology is unlawful in Dubai and subject to limitations in France, both places where Clyde & Co has offices.

Wrightson acknowledged security "could" be an issue in those locations but he said this was "unlikely" to be the case because the database would not contain information which was "that commercially sensitive".

Wrightson said the advantage of the system was that information could now be collated in one database.

He said this was already reaping benefits for the firm because the new database had revealed that barristers were charging "quite varied" fees, and Clyde & Co would now negotiate "more firmly" with them.

The firm's existing Elite practice management system will be linked into the system.

City firm Simmons & Simmons committed itself to linking all its IT systems and confidential information to an Intranet last month, the first law firm in the UK to do so.

Simmons bought the US Intranet system Open Text Livelink for a "significant six- figure sum" and said it intended to connect the system to the Internet, giving clients limited access to the system.