Suppliers blast Law Society IT directory

Alison Laferla reports

Legal IT suppliers, angry at being excluded from the Law Society's IT directory, have accused the society of doing its members a disservice by failing to carry out research for the directory properly.

The Information Technology Directory, published in August, is sold to members for £35. It aims to "provide guidance on how to choose and set up an IT system and contains information provided by the main IT suppliers to lawyers in England and Wales".

But several suppliers are furious at having been omitted from the directory.

Those left out include Admiral Legal Systems, Avenue, Elite, Linetime, Miles 33, MSS and Solicitec. TFB, supplier to Law Society president Tony Girling's firm Girling & Co, was also excluded from the directory. Suppliers estimate that these companies account for 30 to 40 per cent of the legal systems supplied in England and Wales.

The suppliers were excluded for a number of reasons. Admiral Legal Systems said it was never asked to submit details. Solicitec submitted its details but was excluded from the directory, reportedly because of poor communications between the society's IT department and its publishing department.

Linetime asked the Law Society to clarify certain points before it submitted its details, received no reply, and was subsequently excluded from the directory.

John Burrill, managing director of Linetime, said he had written to the secretary general of the Law Society, Jane Betts, asking for an explanation.

"The whole thing is diabolical. It shows little or no research," he said.

Burrill added that the Law Society, which is piloting a practice management system of its own, was trying to do too many things at once.

"Being a regulatory and representative body creates enough of a problem. It is wearing too many hats," he said.

Neil Ewin, managing director of Solicitec, said: "It's annoying, particularly when it was launched with reports in the society's Gazette saying how well-researched it was.

"The Law Society is an obvious first point of call for any firm seeking guidance in the selection of a computer system. However, the credibility of its guide must be in question."

A Law Society spokesman said no suppliers were deliberately excluded but some did fail to meet the short deadline for submitting details.