Legal IT directors: Andrew McManus, Ann Cant and Shane Scott share their strategic priorities

Sharing their strategic priorities for the forthcoming year to 18 months and beyond are Andrew McManus, IT director at UK top 15 law firm Eversheds, Ann Cant, IT director at highly profitable top 40 firm Travers Smith, and Shane Scott, IS director at circa 490-lawyer UK top 50 firm Shoosmiths. McManus joined Eversheds in 2014 from The NEC Group, where he also held the same title. He entered the legal sector one year after Scott, who until February 2013 was group IT director at UK Mail. Cant, a well-known name in the legal IT circuit, joined Travers Smith over 19 years ago.

Andrew McManus, IT director, Eversheds

1. Digital. My first priority is how we can turn Eversheds into the digital law firm of the future, which includes using new technology at the right price, with the right access and availability. Technology is more accessible and the key to success revolves around creating the right circumstances and team rather than simply buying technology solutions. As part of this, we’re very keen to have the right set of stakeholders from all parts of our firm and our clients to understand what we all want, and provide the right circumstances to create new products and services.

2. Mobility. The day-to-day operation of the law; spending time making sure lawyers on a day-to-day basis from a technology and facilities point of view are efficient and they can work from anywhere. I’m focussing on providing a consistent global service so our lawyers can have the same access and information and quality of interaction in a coffee shop or the client’s office, which allows them to be very client focussed. It’s about having access to all information and having complete visibility and ease of collaboration within our organisation and with our client.

3. Knowledge. Using our information and our knowledge and harnessing that in a tailored and structured way, using a wide range of data sources to support our decision making and tailor our advice and updates to clients. Success is using our knowledge platforms to tailor our advice to our clients, rather than bombard them with loads of information.

Ann Cant, IT director, Travers Smith

1. Agility. This is our major project for the year ahead. We are already in the process of moving to a virtual desktop across the firm and, once complete, we will be offering a range of devices to both lawyers and business service departments in order that they can work in a way that best suits their role and still be able to service our clients. As well as redesigning the desktop applications to work in a flexible way we are working on improving our telephony and communication options generally to mirror that way of working.

2. Process/Workflow/Paper. A major part of the agility programme will be automating as many paper-based/ manual processes as possible so that our users have full functionality outside the office. Likewise we are introducing more ways of reducing paper and accessing data collaboratively across the firm – again independent of device. This also involves the development of apps to make information easily available when mobile.

3. Security. Tied directly into our agile initiative, we must ensure that all our systems are highly secure across all devices. Security is always an important part of what we do but by making our users more agile we must make our security systems work in all environments on offer. We have also worked on raising user awareness around cyber security this year and will continue to run workshops/seminars across the firm to keep knowledge on the subject relevant and up to date.

Shane Scott, IS director, Shoosmiths

1. Process rationalisation and simplification. Addresses multiple objectives in driving efficiency and effectiveness across the business, simplifies our applications landscape and allows the development of new client services. The process challenges the value of every activity undertaken during a transaction and if it is not a requirement of the process or adds no value – it is taken out. Using a combination of workflow, UC and analytics technologies.

2. Agile Working. Based on the principle that work is an activity you do and not a place you have to go to. All our infrastructure and applications are geared around anywhere, anytime, any device. This is using a combination of private and public cloud. Any application deployed has to be thin browser client. We’re currently implementing comprehensive UC solution across the business.

3. Digital. This is core to everything we do and drives overall strategy and the philosophy that any of our internal systems / information can be shared with the client via the web. This drives our technical, data and behavioural agenda across all areas of the business.

This article first appeared in the May Legal IT Insider. To  register for your free monthly copy click here.