Award for IT pioneers

Alison Laferla reports

An Exeter law firm rose "like a phoenix from the ashes" to scoop this year's Society for Computers & Law IT award last week.

The four-partner firm, Rundle Walker, was set up by solicitors who had been made redundant in the recession.

None of the partners had used a computer before, but in four years they used IT to create a successful firm and carry off the award.

The firm says computerisation has helped it remove barriers between partners and clients and has cut overheads.

All telephone calls to the firm go straight through to a partner. Quotations for a house purchase, for example, can be prepared instantly and faxed or e-mailed to the client.

John Irving, director of BDO Stoy Haward and chairman of the judging panel, remarked: "Rundle Walker has given us a glimpse of what tomorrow's law firm will be like."

He said this was the first time a law firm had entered on the basis of its use of IT, rather than for a specific computer application.

"The judges were very impressed by Rundle Walker's common sense and practical approach to the use of IT," he added.

Partner Mervyn Rundle said: "Our firm is structured around IT, rather than the IT being structured around the firm.

"The system allows us to concentrate on what we're good at and get to know our clients even better."

The other finalists were the Hexar Faxswitch system, Fransys from Lexology and the Family Finance Toolkit from FT Law & Tax.