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It was 25 years ago today – Eclipse gets out the silver for its anniversary

Eclipse Legal Systems – the UK’s largest independently owned legal IT provider – is celebrating its 25th birthday in 2012. The company was founded on 17th May 1987 by Steve Ough (now Chief Software Architect) and has gone on to become the market’s leading case management software vendor.  Its Proclaim solution is in use by over 16,000 individuals at 650 organisations. As part of the year’s celebrations, Eclipse’s 2012 company conference (to which all 120 staff are invited) is taking place over a weekend in Barcelona.

Steve Ough comments: “It’s an incredibly proud time for us – the business has gone from one man (literally, me!) to a headcount of 120 (and we are actively recruiting for more).  Many of our clients have been with us for a large part of our history (some for 20 years) and we are looking forward to continued growth and success in the years to come.”

Here is a brief timeline of Eclipse’s history:

May 1987

Eclipse Computer Systems is founded by Steve Ough (now Chief Software Architect).  The company develops and supplies its first Case Management and document production system to a Legal Expenses Insurer.  This first product was entitled CHAMP (Claims Handling And Management Programme).


Eclipse is incorporated as a limited company.  The firm develops a full accounting and sales order processing system for a Cutlery importer, Lancasters, and continues to expand in the legal sector.


A growing Eclipse (now numbering 5 staff!) moves premises to Merchants House (Little Germany, Bradford).  A new Case Management system entitled ‘Chase’ is born.  Proactive marketing begins and sees Eclipse attend the much-missed Barbican Legal IT event (the biggest exhibition in the calendar at that time).


Russell Thomson (now Chief Business Executive) and Dolores Evelyn (now Sales Director) join as Eclipse’s first dedicated sales team.


Eclipse picks up speed, seeing the 20th client sign up for its ‘Chase for Windows’ system.


Russell Thomson becomes a shareholder and joins Steve on the Board of Directors.


The very first Eclipse staff conference taking place abroad – all staff are taken to Dublin for a weekend event.  This tradition has continued and Eclipse takes all staff for an annual conference event (locations have included Portugal, Spain, The Alps, Amsterdam).


The new Eclipse Case Management system is launched – Proclaim.  Surge in new client wins and Chase upgrades including current clients such as Barnetts Solicitors, MSL Legal Expenses and Colemans-ctts.


Proclaim Accounts launched as Eclipse expands its legal IT footprint into Practice Management Systems.  The expanding company (now numbering 30 staff) moves to Kelso House (Little Germany, Bradford) and becomes a Law Society Recommended Legal IT Provider.  Eclipse retained this badge every year until the demise of the Law Society’s Software Solutions Guide in 2009.  2002 also sees a market first – Eclipse launches FileView, the legal IT sector’s first real-time online case tracking tool.


Growth continues, with turnover reaching £3million and the Proclaim end-user figure passing the 5,000 mark.


Eclipse wins its first international client – 1car1 (Australia), a vehicle hire and management firm.


Proclaim wins the coveted “Integrated System of the Year” prize at the Legal Technology Awards.  The Proclaim Hosted (SaaS) solution is launched, providing clients with the option of hosting at Eclipse’s data centre or at the location of their choosing.


Record results in the Law Society’s Software Solutions Guide – Eclipse ranks 1st in 7 categories.  The company expands into purpose-designed buildings at its Bradford base, with headroom for 200 staff.


Longstanding employees Mick Thompson, Tracy Blencowe and Dolores Evelyn are promoted to the Board of Directors to assist Steve and Russell in the next stage of growth.


Eclipse’s turnover hits a record high of £8 million, staff headcount exceeds 100 and the company announces a record 104 new client wins in the 2010/11 financial year.


Eclipse is the first-to-market with Case Management solutions designed exclusively for Alternative Business Structures.  Turnover reaches £9million and staff headcount exceeds 120.