chessThe latest Legal IT Insider saw another high profile IT director trio share their three core strategic objectives, with security once again a common theme. Mike Nolan, IT director at UK top 20 law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner; Richard Elson, director of information services at City and international firm Trowers & Hamlins; and Graham Sankey, head of IT at national law firm TLT here give an inside view on what their priorities are for the next year and beyond.

Mike Nolan, BLP

New technology. BLP has been leading in integrating new and emerging technology to make a real difference within the firm. Some examples of our work to date are the use of contract robots, AI, cognitive searching, and innovative integration within our existing systems. These applications of new technology help us to continually offer more innovative solutions to our clients, with our lawyers playing a key role in identifying new opportunities to exploit our technology. An essential part of making this work is having the right team of people working together in both the traditional legal technology space and with new and emerging technology. Working closely with our lawyers, these teams need to be able to move quickly to develop and deliver solutions, often in concert with our in-house development function or with our key partners.

Evolving our systems to support more flexibility for modern working – ensuring mobility through agile connectivity, a range of different mobile devices, collaboration and unified communications. Our lawyers should be able to work seamlessly with our clients from anywhere. We have carried out significant work on our back office systems to support this initiative and provide a greater range of high quality tools for our lawyers to use. From collaboration technology to video and flexible communications – our IT system has to evolve at the pace our clients and lawyers need.

Maintaining our focus on security, building on our long standing ISO27001 certification and investing in our people and systems to keep our security posture evolving in line with an ever changing world. Ensuring that we have the right team of people leading in this area is vital, and integrating experts from multiple disciplines within the firm is a key requirement. From our risk and compliance team, our communications team, our IT and security teams, our senior management and our strategic partners.

Graham Sankey, TLT

Security. In the ever changing security landscape this will remain a core focus for us.  Our security models need to continually adapt to keep abreast of current threats and regulatory changes, with client data segregation high on the agenda.

Digital and collaborative working. Continuing the drive towards true electronic working this programme focuses on enabling staff to work in the most efficient way possible, no matter where they are located. It provides efficiency gains to all staff across locations by allowing easy and collaborative access to the data and systems necessary for the task at hand.

Efficiency. This programme focuses on directly improving the efficiency of our fee earning teams. It includes initiatives such as process and document automation, service centralisation and technology stack rationalisation. User training will be a major component of this programme and will be supported by a competency based training initiative based on the LTC4 framework.

Richard Elson, Trowers & Hamlins

Information and Cyber security controls and keeping up with the threat landscape. We’re permanently working on the “Ps”.  People – changing behaviours concerning information security, Passwords – tighter policies and controls, Paper – keeping storage of it to a minimum, – Printing – a secure print platform is now in place globally, Premises – improved security thereof, Privileges – who is allowed to do what, Procedures – including mandatory awareness training and, of course, Programs – encryption and security related technologies. In particular, we are focusing on educating people about the ways in which criminals will target identity thefts in various forms and advising of the fraud attempts we have seen both here and more widely in the business community so that their vigilance can help strengthen our lines of defence.

Datacentre transformation and virtual desktop. We’re completely transforming our datacentre technology this year to provide best of breed, resilient compute and storage capabilities to serve as the platform to deliver our private cloud desktop virtualisation that we’ve developed and are rolling out to provide secure virtual desktop access from anywhere.

The strategy is to provide a single global system for all applications.  This strategy enables us to provide increased flexible working, improved disaster and business continuity and also lower costs and lead times where we might consider opening offices.

Legacy systems migrations, consolidations, decommissioning. It’s not all new. There’s a whole host of decommissioning and consolidation work underway. We recently merged and, while we were able to get our merged firm’s users working on the firm’s systems on day one of the merge, there is always a set of legacy applications systems and technologies from which to migrate, to integrate or to decommission. We are also planning the completion of programme of a work to redesign our document management system to have global systems of one live and one archive database, consolidated from an environment of various multiple databases. Removing the remainder of these legacy system boundaries will further improve our ability to work globally across teams.

This article first appeared in Legal IT Insider’s July/August newsletter