Linklaters opens Essex communications centre

LINKLATERS & Paines has opened its long-planned new “disaster-proof” Essex communications centre.

The £3m new site at Colchester Business Park, which opened this month, will safeguard the firm's data in case disaster strikes its London offices, and also provide a 24-hour support service to the firm's offices around the world.

Simon Thompson, Linklaters' head of information systems and strategy, said he believed that Linklaters was the first UK law firm to make such a move, but predicted other practices would follow suit. He added that Linklaters also expected to save money on office expenditure and recruitment by opening the centre in Essex.

The new centre houses the firm's information technology, records, finance and switchboard functions, and employs about 100 staff, most of whom have been relocated from its London office.

As a result of the move, 12 staff from throughout the firm took redundancy, and 45 new staff were recruited, mainly in the information systems and financial operations departments.

The firm now intends to set up a “global Intranet” to link up its international offices, and is currently involved in preliminary work, according to Thompson.

He added that the firm was also considering buying new IT equipment and was looking at ” a number of finance systems”, know-how or precedent management systems, and document management systems.

Linklaters began an IT overhaul in December 1994, when it changed the basis of its computer infrastructure from WANG to NeXTSTEP.

This process was completed by April 1995, and the firm started to move its communications and records department to Colchester a year later, using rented accommodation before starting the move into its new premises at the end of June this year.

In London, Linklaters' 1,500 staff are also due to move from their offices at Clements House, Barrington House and Mitre House to new premises in Silk Street at the end of September.