Back by popular demand in Legal IT Insider’s monthly digital magazine, the latest IT directors to give us a glimpse into their strategic priorities for the next 12-18 months or beyond are Andrew Brammer from Magic Circle giant Allen & Overy; David Aird from 1,400-lawyer international firm DAC Beachcroft, and Maurice Tunney from circa 150-lawyer next generation firm Keystone Law, which operates a devolved model and relies on technology to provide a cohesive service to its clients.

Andrew Brammer, IT and shared services director, Allen & Overy

1. New solutions, designed for clients – the right blend of technology, expertise and resourcing to solve our clients’ challenges. With respect to technology, we are exploiting workflow, collaboration, automation and analytics tools to provide ‘end-to-end’ services to our clients.

2. Information security and risk management –  our areas of focus include moving towards the emerging SOC2+ standard, forthcoming GDPR legislation and the constant improvement and tuning of our cyber monitoring capability as threats change.

3. Improved mobility and collaboration technologies –  meeting increasing demands today whilst recognising ‘total’ mobility will be a pre-requisite for new hires in future years. Increasingly our people are working outside the office. We are developing ways of securely providing the technology services to the user rather than an office desk. This will provide application and data ‘at the edge’, reducing the dependence on a high quality, highly availability network.

David Aird, IT director, DAC Beachcroft

1. Security – beginning to sound like a broken record here, as most Legal CIOs are on this one, but security whilst always important has shot up the agenda in the last few years but was often something you read that happens to other people. These days, it’s probably something that happened to you last month or if you are lucky last year. Everyone has their own war story or near miss. We are investing quite heavily in this area, new systems, experienced partners running security related services for us and also, most importantly, on awareness and the people factor.

2. Digital – this is something again that more people are beginning to get and take more of an interest in. While we are interested in the pure digital experience for clients, we do realise that we are a law firm and for now, that probably means we are not going to be Uber. So for us, digital at the moment is more about looking at how we do business / the processes (particularly back office); how we can digitalise to improve margin and work smarter. We’re doing this in a number of places from real estate to clinical risk. We are also interested as part of our digital agenda on artificial intelligence; while it’s beginning to look a little over-hyped, we think this could be a very useful weapon in the armoury.

3. Change in law firms – having been in the sector for two and a half years, it’s struck me that change full stop in law firms is quite difficult. Even when you deliver something quite compelling you will still get consternation about it (much more than other sectors I believe). So as we do our new stuff, projects/change/transformation/upgrades, call it what you will, we are trying to think of better ways to manage the change, be that comms/training etc. Otherwise, it just becomes “stuff that the IT department has thrown out there” and that people don’t engage with.

Maurice Tunney, Keystone Law

1. Innovate – although our key systems are function rich, easy to use and get excellent feedback from our users – there is always room for improvement. Our innovation team are always on the lookout for new and exciting technology that we can harness to enable us to provide a more effective service to our clients and we have several of these projects underway.

2. Automate – our model places more emphasis on IT self-reliance, therefore our systems need to be as simple and intuitive as possible. The more tasks that we can automate the better. This focus on automation applies to the daily life of a lawyer as well as the back-office support functions.

3. Collaborate – over the last few years we have grown by 35% year-on-year and continue to grow rapidly. Therefore, we are not only ensuring that our core systems and processes are as scalable and resilient as possible, we are also working with our lawyers to ensure they can collaborate effectively with each other and most importantly with our clients.