Keystone system wins DJ Freeman's backing

CITY firm DJ Freeman has become the first practice in the UK to “go live” with the Keystone practice management system that Ashurst Morris Crisp scrapped two months ago at an estimated cost of £1m.

DJ Freeman successfully completed its £1m, 18-month project to implement Keystone Systems' practice management system on 1 July – curbing market speculation that the system was difficult to install.

Staff are in the process of being trained to use the system, which will have 250 users and will handle work in progress, billing, budgeting information, deeds, and document management and time recording.

In May The Lawyer revealed that Ashursts had dropped the New Zealand-made system because of “irreconcilable differences over implementation expectations” and had signed a deal with US supplier CMS Data to buy its CMS Open system.

An Ashursts spokesman would not comment on whether the firm regretted its decision to ditch Keystone.

DJ Freeman marketing director Linda Phelan said: “We can't comment on Ashursts' decision to pull out at such a late stage, but after our own two-year development and testing programme we were confident that we had made the right decision.”

The firm's IT director, Owen Williams, said the implementation had been “slick” and all 140 fee earners at the firm had been able to use the system immediately.

BDO Stoy Hayward IT consultant John Irving, who advised DJ Freeman on the project, said: “This is very significant because it removes a lot of uncertainty.”

Keystone UK managing director Colin Morris said: “Keystone is an adaptable system which works smoothly once implemented.” He added that DJ Freeman's staff had been “100 per cent committed” to the project.

A £2m Keystone implementation at Stephenson Harwood and one at Masons are both “on course” and due to go live before the end of this year.

The Lawyer understands that “several” other large firms have expressed an interest in the system but have been waiting for DJ Freeman to go live with it.