In September 1994, our chambers' computer system, originally chosen in 1990, was beginning to show its age.
An unfriendly character-based front-end system seemed out of place when our 25 members were enthusing about Windows technology and Microsoft Word for their own word processing.
Our requirement was for a fast, Windows database which both barristers and clerks could use, which would help us attract more work and, more importantly, which would look after the set's existing clients.
With the release of Microsoft Access database software this seemed to be a possibility.
Scouting around, we found the systems available were Ace, still the major supplier to the Bar, Meridian in its early stages and the now defunct Wildings' Inn View.
New on the scene was Pimcroft's Falcon One which seemed the obvious choice as it was specified to fulfil any clerk's must-have list.
Central to the specification is the planner. Information keyed in by a barrister automatically creates a fee note for that case, halving the amount of keying in and releasing the clerk from
the Tippex-splattered diary.
We became one of the five sets of chambers participating in the Pimcroft Falcon One project.
Optimistically, we cabled our ageing but elegant Georgian building in Southampton. We managed to get our main building and our annexe talking to each other over the street, courtesy of the Videotron private cable.
Soon we will receive our beta version of Falcon One. Our feedback at this next stage will be critical in making the final version ready early next year as a professional management tool.
Reports available to us will include paperwork due, clerks' fees over specified periods, lists of judges, prisons and courts, and analyses of work done, in what areas and for which solicitors.
There are a few decisions left to us, such as whether to transfer our data over or
begin afresh with a new system. Data transfer will be offered as an option to avoid banks of computer screens taking over the clerks' room.
Avoiding networking pitfalls also needs thought – we will probably take the total networking route.
So far, the system is living up to expectations.