Dibbs leads the way with major IT outsourcing deal

DIBB Lupton Alsop has taken a rare decision to outsource a major part of its IT in a move which consultants have said could spark a new trend.

The firm's Bradford office is to outsource part of its technology requirements for its debt management and recovery systems to Integris, the global outsourcing and systems integration arm of Bull Information Systems.

Bull, an international IT provider, will provide the Bradford office with a mainframe system which will be run from the Integris centre in Newhouse, Scotland.

Dibbs director of operations Christopher Honeyman Brown said outsourcing of other parts of the firm's IT system was "under consideration".

Dibb Lupton Alsop's contract with Bull is one of the first of its kind. Many law firms already outsource the maintenance requirements of their hardware, although few outsource whole sections of their IT requirements.

Consultants have pointed to an increasing tendency among law firms to consider the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing even if they are not planning to take the idea up immediately.

Andrew Levison, head of IT consultancy at the David Andrew Partnership, said: "An increasing number of law firms are looking at the idea, but they often reject it as IT is considered too key a function of the firm now."

Robert Morgan, executive chairman of outsourcing consultancy Morgan Chambers, said that businesses and in-house legal departments were increasingly outsourcing their IT requirements.

Morgan added that he expected legal practices to follow the trend.

"Instead of having an empire of IT management and support, firms can get rid of a department of 15 or 20 people and cut out the need for staff reviews, staff replacement, training and a hierarchy," he said.

A three-day conference on outsourcing has been organised by Morgan Chambers and Reed Exhibitions in London from 6 to 8 October. There will be masterclasses, seminars and discussions.