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IRIS start to reorganise the CS Group legal division

The IRIS Group, which acquired the Computer Software Group (aka CSG including its legal division comprising AIM, Laserform, Mountain and Videss) today announced a reorganisation of the legal division – which also sees the departure of some well-known names within the legal market, namely Jim Chase of AIM and Ian Knox and Steve Kendrick of Mountain.

Change number 1 is the name – the CS Group vanishes and the legal business unit will be known from today as IRIS Legal Solutions.

Change number 2 is a move from the business operating as separate companies and a shift towards operating as functional units at a senior management level, including customer service, development, sales and marketing, HR, professional services and product management. However the four individual 'brands' will continue to have their own discrete personnel so, for example, Videss sales will still be handled by the Videss sales team and Mountain  helpdesk requests will still be handled by the Mountain support team.

Commenting on the changes, managing director Arlene Adams said “This change allows us to pull together best practice, optimize our resources and introduce industry leading software development methodologies and processes. In doing so I am convinced we can offer a whole new level of service and innovation that the legal industry has not yet seen, whilst maintaining our commitment to 'user choice' by not ending the life of any of our products.   
“Until the recent IRIS acquisition trail the legal market largely consisted of small private owned software houses and with this business structure comes limited investment. I was surprised to find a general lack of innovation and process in the legal sector compared to that of other software markets. There is a great opportunity with the backing of IRIS for us to make substantial investments in people, process and technology that enables us to reset the benchmark at whole new level.” Adams says she has already started the ball rolling with the creation of a Product Management function within the new structure that will maintain a very strong focus on individual product lines. 

The new management team comprises… long time AIM staffer Benette Tarbotton as Head of Customer Support, Hazel Birdsall, another long-time AIM manager, as Human Resources Manager, Catherine Bailey, previously with CSG, as Head of Marketing, Philip Murray (originally technical director at Meridian Law and more recently with Mountain) as Head of Professional Services, Videss veteran Chris Rose becomes Sales Director Solicitors. And, reflecting the group's niche markets, Nick Ozga will be the Sales Director for the barristers and coroners systems, while Brian Welsh will continue as the General Manager of GB Systems Scotland
As part of this organisational change, those leaving the business include Jim Chase (former MD of AIM and recently the Operations Director of CS Legal), Ian Knox (MD of Mountain) and Steven Kendrick (Sales Director of Mountain).

27 replies on “IRIS start to reorganise the CS Group legal division”

it's a mess really, U turns, people out, united corporate speak PR but chaos on the ground – know one knows what's really going on – where's the trust. Change for changes sake just so you don't get tarred with same brush as the last lot.

Well, what a surprise, the closer they get to each other the fewer competitors for the rest of us. Long may the confusion continue to rule.

Here is the full text sent to Iris clients….and there's me thinking that I had a direct relationship with Jim Chase. Good luck Jim. I hope they have paid you off well although I suspect it will be an insignificant sum compared to that received by the lady who started this all off in the first place.
I last wrote to you in July when I had just joined IRIS as Managing Director of the Legal & Compliance Division.
In my first communication I talked about the importance I place on delighted customers. I have now almost completed my first 90 days in the job. My first impression of our business, products and service is very positive. Most of all I have been delighted to see the desire of our employees to go the extra mile to help our customers. While all of this provides a solid foundation I have identified a few ways in which we can become more customer centric in what we do.
It is in this context that I am making a few changes to my senior management team and the structure our business. I must stress that the changes are at a management level and there will be no change to our products and your interaction with us. You will continue to interface with the same contact points. The change has been designed to have only a positive impact on our service and for this reason current employee job roles and day to day activity will remain the same.
The business will now operate as a functional structure with all employees reporting into Centre's of Excellence for their given function. Previously we had been operating as individual companies with limited scope to identify and implement best practice. Our new functional structure, headed by leaders who know and understand their area, will allow us the opportunity to really focus on being the best in everything we do. Each function will be driven to constantly improve and innovate but now with the support of group wide resources, experience and industry best practice. This new structure also provides us the best opportunity to recruit and retain the best staff which in turn has a big impact on the service we can deliver.
The functions, and their leaders, are as follows:
> Customer Support – Benette Tarbotton
> Development – John Irwin
> Marketing – Catherine Bailey
> Product Management – TBA
> Professional Services – Philip Murray
> Sales Solicitors – Chris Rose
> Sales Barristers – Nick Ozga
> Sales Coroners – Nick Ozga
> HR & Operations – Hazel Birdsall
Under this new structure we will maintain a very strong focus on individual product lines. Each product will continue to have specific teams with dedicated staff in the areas of customer support, product management, development, professional service teams, sales and marketing.
As part of this organisation change a few senior managers will be leaving the business. They include Jim Chase (former MD of AIM and recently the Operations Director of CS Legal), Ian Knox (MD of Mountain) and Steven Kendrick (Sales Director of Mountain). I would like to thank each of them for their contribution over the years and I wish them well.
Apart from a better product and service you will not see any other changes. You will still deal with the same people, through the same channels, and your software system will continue to be supported as always.
If you have any feedback regarding this change then as always I will be pleased to hear from you. You can contact me at
Finally, I would like to finish by thanking you for choosing IRIS Legal Solutions to support your firm or legal department. We do value your business and will continue our efforts to meet and exceed your expectations in all that we do.

Isn't it funny that when a small niche business is taken over by a corporate the people that made them the way they were always leave, sometimes after a decent interval, sometimes in indecent haste. Some through choice and some because they are pushed.

When IRIS/CSG & Vinisty have shown up before lots of long blogs etc this time it's pretty easy:
If you're a competitor fantastic news.
If you're a member of staff within IRIS Legal get your CV out before they get you.
If you're a client thought you were confused/unsure when Vin/CSG did her/their round of briefings last time etc? this time it looks even worse, badly managed and downright clumsy.

Yipee!! Yipee!!! Yipee!!! Yippee!!! Christmas has suddenly come early!!!

Good luck Jim – you will be missed for your professionalism & humour. More fool IRIS, god knows how they now intend to run all that from IRIS HQ. Great for our competitors but sours anyone's view as to how people get treated by CSG/IRIS. Remember Vin's great splurge on how important the management team was well I think that's somewhere on the bottom of the Atlantic now.

IRIS please keep this up.
1. First a botched attempt to spin how one minute Vin was brilliant and to stay on the main board the next she was going anyway in 'the big plan'
2. Now all this and Ms Adams view that she has it all worked out in 90 days.

'a few senior managers will be leaving the business' you mean 3 out 4 of the senior team gone in one hit.

Just off to the show at Olympia this morning. No idea if Iris will be there but I am confident that if they are I won't know anybody on the stand.

“It is in this context that I am making a few changes to my senior management team and the structure our business.”
So busy in 90 days that composing coherent sentences for Lawyers must be a luxury within IRIS.

IRIS have no presence at the Law Autumn 2007 event in Olympia except for Mountain. Have a guess who was on the stand yesterday checking this blog at about 15:00. For some reason he is back today?

What a total marketing and PR disaster – and a gift for all the competitors.
How this equates to improved customer centricity is difficult to understand and certainly not explaned.
I think if I were a client I would be looking for a significant improvement in interaction rather than maintaining the level currently on offer – hold out for some real relatinship building rather than the continued spin that would make even Alastair Campbell cringe.

Come on People. What did you expect Iris was going to do with their legal suppliers. Some sort out was ineviatable. Shame to see some of the “names” go, but corporate life goes on.
More interesting is going to be what they do with product line up.

So the IRIS board decide to go it alone and dump all the key customer facing people. That's the end of the Videss, AIM, Laserform and Mountain brands. Phones now being answered as IRIS Legal etc.
It will only be matter of time before they move onto the next round of shutting offices, redundancies etc.

No sign of Arelene at the show. Probably doesn't want to get to close to the coal face.

You say it's the end of the individual brands but I've had a need to call the late Laserform support desk three times in four days – each time the phone was answered there was a different company on the other end 🙂
It would seem the confusion is internal as well as external…

It seems to me like there are a lot of people posting on this site (bar a few farewells to Jim Chase) with far too much time on there hands whom have nothing better to do than speculate and hypothesize over what may or may not happen within the legal division of Iris.
Conjecture regarding shutting offices and redundancies is a downright ludicrous thought and would appear to come from perhaps a slightly worried competitor in the legal market place.
As for internal confusion, who wouldn't answer a phone wrong in the first few days after the company name has changed after months and years of answering it as Laserform. Is that all you have ?? If your going to gossip, at least make it meaningful.

Whilst I can understand your sentiment regarding gossip between competitors it is probably worth pointing out that in actual fact a considerable amount of the so called historical speculation you refer to has probably been proved to be correct. Meaningful – so far yes, you keep making the news – good or bad depending on your point of view.
People do not fear IRIS as a competitor. Given what it has inherited from CSG and how it has been acting quite the opposite.

A lot of the speculation over what may or may not happen is actually coming from the companies within the group so perhaps the internal confusion needs addressing beyond how to answer the phone.
It isn't just other legal software vendors and the like that frequent this site. Maybe Iris need to begin monitoring staff web browsing habits.

Why don't we lighten the mood by taking a look at Mountain Software's Announcements page regarding the CS Group take over of Mountain:
'Ian Knox, Managing Director of Mountain Software added:
“This move has given Mountain Software, its clients and staff a secure and exciting future.'
Well some of its staff, possibly!

What is all the fuss about.
The VAGroup own Volkswagen, AUDI, Bentley, Skoda, SEAT, etc etc.
They each sell into different market sectors without all of this hub-ub.
The competition is just running scared. Mainly because no one wants to buy them as they are not very profitable.

Good point.
Perhaps someone from Iris could tell us which product is their chosen one for each sector of the market.

Yep the car thing re VAG is true but be careful with 'car' comparisons given what happened to DaimlerChrysler!!
I'm not sure where you've been if you take the view the competition are scared. I think they're just delighted at what appears to be a complete miss match of acquisitions, no sensible strategy, people issues, client concerns etc.
Again on the profitability thing be careful as I think you'll find that there are some who are more profitable than any of the IRIS legal companies.

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