IT is regions' secret weapon

Linda Tsang reports

SOPHISTICATED IT systems are forming part of an arsenal of weapons enabling regional practices to compete with their City counterparts.

Birmingham firm Martineau Johnson recently demonstrated the benefits of its newly-installed document management system at a presentation attended by the firm's clients and intermediaries.

These included representatives from Coopers & Lybrand, KPMG and the University of Birmingham.

The partners illustrated how the system reduced the paperwork involved in litigation, showing that the documents contained in over 80 storage boxes could be held on a laptop computer. The firm has invested a five-figure sum in the R/KYV system.

The system will be used mainly by the firm's intellectual property, litigation and employment departments. It is envisaged the system will be used in the complex commercial arbitrations as well as heavyweight IP litigation.

Head of litigation Andrew Spooner said: "This is a powerful weapon to have in court when split-second decisions have to be made." He added that such a facility would place the firm in a strong position to compete with London practices for litigation work.

William Barker, head of the intellectual property department, said: "Computerised document management systems have been used in the US for some years, and are being used more and more in court in this country. It is only a matter of time before they become a recognised part of litigation."