Commercial practice goes for US management system

COMMERCIAL firm Jeffrey Green Russell has revealed that it deliberately Americanised its IT system so that it could keep up with the latest technological developments.

The London firm has chosen a new practice management system from US suppliers CMS Data at an overall cost of £300,000, which includes installation costs and training for the firm's staff.

It signed contracts with CMS in June and anticipates that the system will become fully operational in April, 1998. It will replace the Ushers practice management system which was installed in the mid 1980s.

Senior partner Clive Whitfield-Jones said it made sense to buy American as technological advances in the way law firms do business usually happened in the US first.

He said the ability of the system to carry out "task-based billing", "matter-budgeting" and "matter-profitability" had proved particularly attractive as the US-inspired ideas were becoming increasingly important for lawyers in the UK.

Task-based billing requires lawyers to closely record work and present it to clients in a way the client chooses. Matter-budgeting breaks down a transaction into its various components while matter-profitability works out the profitability of each transaction.

"Firms are increasingly being asked to take part in beauty parades, and their ability to do this well is important," said Whitfield-Jones.

The firm is the fourth in the UK to buy a practice management system from CMS along with London firms Reynolds Porter Chamberlain and Bird & Bird and Buckinghamshire firm BP Collins.