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Still Trending for Comments: Fieldfisher’s managing partner talks LexisOne: The hiccups, the record H1 revenue, and why LexisOne is better than SAP

Fieldfisher this month announced a record H1 revenue performance of £76.8 million, representing growth of 20%, having rolled out LexisNexis ERP solution LexisOne across its UK, Amsterdam and Silicon Valley offices in June. We caught up with managing partner Michael Chissick to talk about the rollout, the bumps and why he thinks LexisOne is better than SAP.

Fieldfisher this month announced a record H1 revenue performance of £76.8 million, representing growth of 20%, having rolled out LexisNexis ERP solution LexisOne across its UK, Amsterdam and Silicon Valley offices in June. We caught up with managing partner Michael Chissick to talk about the rollout, the bumps and why he thinks LexisOne is better than SAP.

The new system, which initially saw the firm experience significant delays in billing, replaced Thomson Reuters Elite Enterprise practice management system; an Aderant PMS in Birmingham (where Fieldfisher merged with Hill Hofstetter in 2016); Chrome River for expense management; and its Cascade HR and payroll System among other systems. It integrates with Lexis Interaction, Fieldfisher’s CRM system.

LexisOne, which will be rolled out across Fieldfisher’s European network in 2018, is underpinned by the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform and Fieldfisher has said that cost savings from using it are estimated to be £1.76m over five years. So far, the three offices above have gone live on core time and billing and are in the process of rolling out Power BI. Fee earners can’t yet bill or add time from their mobile but that is next on the roadmap.

The ERP was deployed in 15 months on schedule and to budget and according to Chissick (pictured), Fieldfisher billed more last month than ever before and captured more time. However, the first stage of the roll out received negative press in the mainstream legal media amid complaints from lawyers that they were unable to bill thanks to teething problems with the new system.

Speaking to the Orange Rag, Chissick says: “I’ve lived and breathed this project for three years and I was a technology lawyer before I became managing partner. People don’t realise how complex these ERP projects are. They think it’s like taking an iPhone out of a box and it leaps into life. It’s not like that and it’s not without its challenges. I can’t believe anyone could implement an ERP across multiple offices and 800 users without its challenges.

“We had a bumpy start but it takes a while to get the business change right, the tech change right and data across from the old systems.”

He adds: “Yes, inevitably we had hiccups in getting bills out – people were getting used to new system having worked for 25 years on Elite. That’s a huge change. But I’m confident it was just a timing issue – we’ll be fully caught up by the end of the year.”

One of the issues was that “some of the time recording at the beginning was a bit clunky” but Lexis ran a series of workshops with Fieldfisher and have released a new version of the time recording software. Chissick says: “We had some challenges at the beginning but we had 70 people-plus in Leeds working hard to support us. They were bloody good because they need us to be successful. They invested a huge amount of money and we’ve invested a huge amount of time because it’s a ground-breaking project that the legal industry needs.”

Fieldfisher has still around a year to go to fully roll out LexisOne and Chissick says: “It was always the contractual plan that we would have a long period of optimisation. We never intended to be at this point a finished product. The firm couldn’t have coped with every functionality on day one because it’s such a complicated product – there was always going to be a period of change and optimisation.”

He adds: “We’ve not yet got the mobile phone functionality. That will enable us to record time, sign off expenses and do everything you do at your desk including get WIP reports from your phone: it’s a key reason we chose LexisOne.

Of Power BI Chissick says: “Now we are just getting our heads round some of Power BI stuff it can do, which is mind-blowing.”

Lawyers notoriously struggle with finance and Chissick adds: “Anything that presents data in pie charts and visual forms could revolutionise the way lawyers work.”

In terms of the LexisOne user experience, Chissick says: “The Windows 10 type feel is so much better than 3E and Aderant. We obviously use Office 365 Business and we’ve consolidated round Microsoft. The look and feel, the interface of LexisOne is quite wow.”

Fieldfisher selected LexisOne after also evaluating Elite 3E, having received encouragement and support on a fairly grand scale from Microsoft and its senior executives. Chissick says: “If we can get a product that can produce user-friendly data for lawyers it’s ground-breaking. It was an opportunity to not just upgrade to 3E but do something truly transformational for the firm.”

Chissick says he didn’t consider SAP – the system used by Linklaters, Baker McKenzie and more recently Norton Rose Fulbright (the latter two in conjunction with Fulcrum Global Technologies), commenting: “I wouldn’t touch SAP. It’s not the right package for a law firm. It’s great if you’re manufacturing cars but it’s not a law firm package and it’s incredibly costly.”

Chissick’s testimonial will be music to LexisNexis’ ears, given that Browne Jacobson, which selected LexisOne in 2014, is understood to be yet to go live. That is in spite of the fact that, half way through Fieldfisher’s implementation process, Dynamics brought out a new version with a different licensing model, which Fieldfisher opted to move to.

Others already live on LexisOne include Channel Islands firm Collas Crill and My Home Move.

Fieldfisher formally announced that it had selected LexisOne in May 2015 and Chissick says: “You get fatigued: we were at it for three years and we had to decide whether to go live – it’s a big call for any managing partner. If it’s a disaster or you can’t bill, you’re dead. Most managing partners don’t want to take a risk but I was a technology partner for 25 years and I knew that there would be issues but that we would get through them. And we have resolved those issues.”

10 replies on “Still Trending for Comments: Fieldfisher’s managing partner talks LexisOne: The hiccups, the record H1 revenue, and why LexisOne is better than SAP”

I was involved towards the end of the project looking at the reporting stream and Power BI piece. I must say that it was refreshing to work with a motivated team in Leeds and with Lindsay Barthram’s team at the firm. Certainly an alternative to Elite 3e and ADERANT – put it on your short list if you are considering moving platforms in 2018

I recall a private conversation with one of the LN team just before go live … and the attitude was one of “this will happen, irrespective of the hours and effort required” – almost Churchill like in some respects … blood, sweat and tears etc.
Obviously important to LN as FF is a flagship client, but it’s good attitude to see and hear.
And as someone I know once laconically said ‘As long as we can record time and get bills out the door, the rest is just fluff’ … true enough.
Well done to all involved and good to see competition in the market.

Well done to both teams. This marks are real change in legal IT landscape. Industry Platforms are here! It’s happening and will soon be the norm. Peppermint Tech has 40 plus customers and LN now have a number (not sure how many). All on Microsoft Dynamics and all in the Cloud. This is the future. Great to see a new dawn in legal tech has finally arrived. Tick-tock to the legacy apps…

Factoid 1 – He’s been working three years on a fifteen month project.
Factoid 2 – He’s got a year to go.
Factoid 3 – He’s has no mobile functionality
Factoid 4 – He can produce pie charts
Factoid 5 – This is revolutionary, transformational and the future of law firms.
Factoid 6 – This is exactly what’s wrong with this industry.

From the comments about, yes it’s clearly “an alternative” to 3E, but, a good one? I don’t think so. Ditto for Arlene/Peppermint’s “40 plus customers” – does she mean she has a couple of customers who are more than 40 years old? Why on earth would anyone in their right mind risk running their firm on a technology built on top of someone else’s technology? Much as we’d all love to see some real alternatives to Elite and Aderant, it just seems way too big a risk (regardless of the 3+ years / 15 month project problem) to buy into software on top of software – what if Microsoft makes a significant shift to Dynamics that breaks LexiWon or Pepperymint? And, for that matter, wouldn’t those silly Fulcrum/SAP projects suffer the same fate? At least with Elite and Aderant only one company is tinkering with the code.

Correct me if I’m wrong Smarty but isn’t ADERANT and Elite built on MS technology too and many firm’s solutions incorporate a best of breed approach using 3rd party specialist apps for time recording, credit control, new business intake etc.

As these are all glued together via MS Squirrel Server lets hope MS never change the direction of that!

At least Lexis bit the bullet and recoded when the Dynamics framework changed. Unlike other leading suppliers who decided on sun setting theirs rather than reworking code and giving long standing clients no choice but to repurchase!

At the end of the day, in my view it’s becoming increasing more important to have the right project team than the right product. The above solutions are all in use at major law firms and support their business. Pick the one that can supply experienced consultants who understand the legal vertical and its nuances and can personalise the solution to take into account your firm’s needs.

If you have to call on the sort of WW2 mentality mentioned in your article…churchillian…blood sweat and tears etc…
to see an IT project through something is not right somewhere…

… Because every IT project is fully road mapped, scoped, known and resourced accordingly at inception. And we all have crystal balls? Right!

My first ever PMS project was a quick ‘need to do it ASAP’ affair, due to a forced but unforeseen change in circumstance. It worked because of good teamwork from a good project team and ‘blood, sweat and tears’. Better that than endless delays and overruns followed by project abandonment.

Andy – proper projects, on that scale, should be fully scoped and resourced appropriately. Either:
(1) the firm didn’t care enough to scope and fund it properly;
(2) the team was incompetent;
(3) the software was not fit for purpose; or,
(4) all of the above.

Which was it?

Of course projects should be scoped as fully as possible (and if anyone thinks I believe otherwise, well they’d be wrong). As I’m sure this project was as far as possible
But as Donald Rumsfeld said (with my additions)
… there are things we know we know (so, in scope then). We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know (So, allow and estimate for these in the scope and resource planning). But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know (which we’ll get with a relatively new system, large implementation – and which blood, sweat and tears will help mitigate).
All my comment is intended to say is that it’s good to see the striving and effort happening to get a usable end result.

And there I’ll leave it …

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