Clyde & Co outsources data centres as 2016/17 ushers in change
Clyde & Co is mid-way through a pitch process that will see it outsource the running of its global data centres to a third party as it also prepares to open its first data centre in the U.S and in the APAC region.
The top 20 law firm is repositioning its global infrastructure so that each key region has its own data centre, building on its existing data centres in the UK and Middle East.
In order to help it deliver these objectives, Clyde & Co is moving away from the current model of owning and running all of its own IT services and looking to appoint a data centre services provider.
Global chief information officer Chris White told Legal IT Insider: “The managed services model works well, using a third party to run the data centres, and we are currently going through a pitch. We’ve received RFPs from a few organisations and will reach a shortlist fairly imminently. I expect we’ll have reached a decision by the end of the financial year.”
The move comes during a period of change and delivery of new technology within the 1300-plus lawyer firm, which at the end of 2015 hired a 30-strong team including five partners from Sydney insurance firm Lee & Lyons and in October 2015 merged with 280-staff, seven-office law firm Simpson Marwick.
White said of the merger: “The plan is to bring them across into our IT environment. The merger was in October and the way we run these things is that when they come across they immediately get a Clyde & Co email address and access to our systems so that they can work as Clyde & Co from day one. Then, after that, we have a transition plan in place to bring them across.”
He added: “It’s a big investment. They would be the first to say they have under invested in technology particularly since they started looking for a merger partner. For example, their seven offices all have different telephone systems.”
Activity arising from the merger comes on top of an already packed agenda for 2016/17, delivering on a new roadmap put in place after White joined in June 2013. Clyde & Co’s new practice management system Elite 3E goes live this financial year, and the firm is undertaking the second phase of its roll out of Intapp Open conflict management system, which will integrate with 3E.
White and his team are also pushing through a new case management system, Elite’s Mattersphere, which will shortly enter a pilot phase before being rolled out more universally in the next financial year. Other developments include putting in a new HR development system – Access SelectHR – and upgrading to Windows 8.1, which will involve a huge amount of work for the IT team.
White said: “Our strategy for the next 12-18 months is to continue consolidating and finish off what we have started over the past two years. “Clyde & Co is on a journey becoming a large global firm and we’re putting in the technology to facilitate that. We started with a vision of what good technology could look like – and put in a single global strategy across the world. We’re now putting in technology that is fit for purpose and which supports our rapidly growing business, backed up by a highly interactive IT team.”
White added: “Next year is going to be all about the delivery of all the things we’ve been planning. Once this is bedded in the phase after that will be around optimisation; we need to fine tune it and reach technical optimisation. We need to make sure our users are optimising their use of the technology with knowledge and training.”
Clyde & Co is an iManage customer but will not be spending time looking into the new services offered post iManage’s management buyout from HP. White said: “We’re not currently speaking to iManage about a cloud-based solution although I like what they are doing in the space – if we want to open up a new office in a new jurisdiction it might be easier to put in a new cloud solution but it’s not something that we’re focussing on, we’ve got so much else going on.”
Undertaking so much change simultaneously was necessary, according to White, who says: “There is so much interrelationship and so much integration needed to be done.
The old practice management system was letting us down; it’s been in place for 15 years and was well beyond its sell by date. We needed to do this to support the business, it was almost non-negotiable.”
Other areas of focus include analysing and improving Clyde & Co’s business processes. White said: “Most law firms focus only on one end of the market but Clyde & Co does a lot of work for the top-end of the market and also a lot of volume work such as case handling work, which from a technology perspective presents challenges. You can’t conduct the volume business in the same way as the top-end business and we need to have the technology in place to support both.”
The volume business means that the firm has significant amounts of data that could be valuable to insurance firms on top of wider data held across the firm and White said: “We’re asking ‘what data have we got and how is it of value to clients?’ Then we’ll look at how we can use it.” He added: “It’s no longer good enough just to say ‘we’re great lawyers’ – you wouldn’t be working for a City law firm if you weren’t a great lawyer. These days, clients are looking for more, a differentiator and added value.”
As a result, Clyde’s IT team is working closely with management and White said: “Our IT leadership team is trying to find more time to think about these sorts of areas and work on them with the executive board. Our executives are seasoned business managers and as a team we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can move Clyde & Co forward. Clyde & Co’s progress has not come about by accident but is the result of our strategy and thinking about how we position ourselves to clients and to the market.”