Alison Laferla reports

Ashurst Morris Crisp has set a precedent by investing over £1 million in a new practice management system.

The firm has chosen to install a Keystone practice management system after putting the project out to tender last year. It will be the first UK practice to implement the system, developed by New Zealand-based company Keystone Systems.

Colin Morris, general manager of Keystone Systems UK, said the product, aimed at the largest law firms, is unique in offering a multi-jurisdictional, multi-currency and multi-office system.

He added that the company, which recently formed a UK subsidiary to target the UK market, is committed to providing a better support service than that on offer to UK firms.

The system, which will eventually be used in Ashursts offices worldwide, is currently being installed in the London office and is expected to go live in spring next year.

David Albert, partner in charge of IT strategy, said the firm chose Keystone after an exhaustive survey and review of currently available products. He was impressed by the flexibility of the system and liked the fact that it was a newly developed product. "We felt it was the most advanced system that would suit our needs. We believe this is a quantum leap forward in terms of meeting the demands of the next century."

Neil Cameron, legal technology consultant who advised Ashursts on the investment, said the system allowed profitability analysis and strategic business planning in a way that had not been possible before. He added that its high degree of functionality allowed the user to deliver a better quality of service to clients.

He said: "Keystone is the first of a new breed of native Windows client/server systems for global law firms which will transform the way firms function. Expect other leading law firms to follow suit."