How absent suppliers view Robson Rhodes' survey

Tony Landes;

THE Robson Rhodes annual legal IT survey (The Lawyer, 5 July) has again produced some interesting results. I would take issue, however, with the chart purporting to illustrate the 'most used legal software suppliers with marketshare more than 2.5 per cent'. To the cursory reader it implies, albeit inadvertently, that there are no other major players in the legal IT marketplace.

I feel that it should have been qualified, as Richard Blasdale's analysis points out, that the scope of the survey is limited by the small response rate (only 339 firms this year).

As only the 1,200 largest law firms in the country were given the opportunity to participate in the survey, the results illustrated by the chart are pertinent only to this size of firm. A graph showing the whole of the legal software market would show Quill Computers, and a number of other suppliers absent from the chart, having a significant share of the total market.

It makes good commercial sense, particularly in these competitive times, for firms to seek the most cost-effective solution to their IT needs without, of course, compromising on the quality of the software.

The sheer weight of numbers of small and medium-sized practices in this country (over 6,000) has ensured that they are well-served by suppliers who concentrate on the needs of that market sector, particularly in terms of providing comprehensive training and support to firms which do not employ specialist computer staff.

I would caution practices which are currently seeking a supplier to look at statistics relevant to similar sized firms. A new legal technology directory to be launched in the autumn with the cooperation of the Association of Legal Technology Suppliers will provide information and a useful starting point from which to draw up a shortlist of likely suppliers.

It has not been my intention to question the value of the Robson Rhodes survey which did not purport to be a full analysis of the legal IT market but merely to add the caveat that the suppliers of systems to the larger firms will not necessarily provide the best solutions for the majority.

Tony Landes is managing director at Quill Computer Systems