Wilde Sapte homes in on teleworking for partners

WILDE Sapte will decide next month whether it is to introduce the option of teleworking to all fee earners at its London premises.

The commercial firm has been running a pilot scheme since January whereby 10 members of staff, including two partners and the IT and marketing directors, have been working from home on either a part-time or a full-time basis.

The purpose of the pilot is to ensure the technology works and to establish and understand the range of issues involved, including insurance, health and safety, data security and costs.

Once the firm has made a full report on the pilot it will decide whether to offer the option to its fee earners, and may invest in 400 personal computers to standardise the technology used.

Under Wilde Sapte's scheme the teleworker can turn his or her computer on at home and access everything they could if they were at work, such as the case management system and the Internet.

Wilde Sapte IT director Simon Kosminsky, who is administering the pilot and taking part in it, said that no problems had emerged on the technology side and that the pilot was "going very well".

Kosminsky said the scheme would help lawyers with children or those with clients in different time zones who had to work at night.

But he added that there were drawbacks to working from home such as being isolated and lacking motivation.

Davis & Co is thought to be the only City firm so far to have introduced teleworking for all its solicitors, as reported in The Lawyer, 15 July 1997.

The firm, which was set up in 1993, comprises 30 former City solicitors who do not want to travel into the City every day. It claims to charge clients 30 per cent less than its competitors as a result of savings made on premises and support staff.

Freshfields issued portable computers to all its fee earners in London last December so they could work from home or when travelling, and it is believed to be the only large City firm to have done so.

Although no Freshfields solicitors work on a part-time basis, the computers are linked to the office networks so all information that can be accessed from within the office can be accessed externally.