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LSSA responds to the Law Society + Eclipse deal UPDATED

The Legal Software Suppliers Association (LSSA) has issued its official comment on Friday’s announcement from Eclipse Legal Systems announcing its endorsement by, and commercial arrangement with, the Law Society. “The LSSA stands behind its open letter of 10thApril 2014, signed by 15 LSSA member companies, which stated that it is not in the best interests of the legal profession for the Law Society to endorse a single preferred IT supplier. This view was backed up by the survey undertaken whereby 236 out of 237 senior representatives from over 200 law firms said they were opposed to the Law Society’s proposal to have one (or a very small number of) preferred supplier/s of case and practice management software to the legal profession.

The Legal Software Suppliers Association (LSSA) has issued its official comment on Friday’s  announcement from Eclipse Legal Systems announcing its endorsement by, and commercial arrangement with, the Law Society.

“The LSSA stands behind its open letter of 10thApril 2014, signed by 15 LSSA member companies, which stated that it is not in the best interests of the legal profession for the Law Society to endorse a single preferred IT supplier. This view was backed up by the survey undertaken whereby 236 out of 237 senior representatives from over 200 law firms said they were opposed to the Law Society’s proposal to have one (or a very small number of) preferred supplier/s of case and practice management software to the legal profession.

“We would be interested to know which suppliers were evaluated by the Law Society before the awarding of this contract and details of the selection criteria. Whilst wishing Eclipse and the Law Society well in their joint venture, the LSSA continues to strive to look after the wider interests of the legal community’s technology needs.”

UPDATE: We’ve just spoken to LSSA chair Glyn Morris who added “LSSA decided not to support The Law Society endorsement scheme as it felt it was a flawed process that was all about the commercial benefit to the Law Society rather than providing a service to Law Society members. The Eclipse deal and the recent VEYO project also highlight a bigger problem, namely what is the role of the Law Society today? What’s its purpose: is it a regulator, a membership services organisation or a revenue generating business. I’m not sure if even its own members know the answer to this.”

CC COMMENT: We’ve also heard some unofficial comments from LSSA members saying they think Eclipse should be expelled from the organisation for breaking ranks.

3 replies on “LSSA responds to the Law Society + Eclipse deal UPDATED”

In addition to this being a bad idea in principle, distorting the market as it will and giving the Law Society a role inconsistent with its traditional responsibilities (along with an obvious conflict of interest), this is bound to be an even worse idea in practice, since the Law Society has demonstrated over the years that technology is just another one of its areas of incompetence exacerbated by arrogance.

In the 90s the Law Society approached Acculaw (my company, which is fortuitously based in Leamington Spa, near the then relevant Law Society offices) with a view to setting up a system for collecting from solicitors the costs associated with its disciplinary procedures against them. Acculaw had sold systems to some big players, both law firms (like Pinsents, Wragges, Eversheds, Burges Salmon, Booth & Co, Osborne Clarke, Bevan Ashford, Lupton Fawcett, Paisners and many others) and commercial organisations (like Unipart, British Vita, Federal Express, the British Waterways Board, The Bristol Post, etc). Of all the organisations I dealt with, the Law Society had by far the worst methodology for the process of assessing the value of or making decisions concerning case management systems. They asked all the wrong questions (and always wanted at least a dozen copies of all of the answers) and betrayed a total lack of understanding both of their own internal processes and the potential costs and benefits of computerisation. I eventually gave the whole project up because I could not imagine having a continuing business relationship with an organisation so clueless. (Actually, as a qualified solicitor in another existence, I should have already known how low the likelihood of intelligent and rational conduct by the Law Society would be.)

There is a reason why there have been so many relatively successful suppliers of case management software over the past three decades. One size does NOT fit all, firms DO have very different needs and priorities, and different courses DO favour different horses.

I have no continuing commercial interest in this area, since Acculaw stopped actively looking for new customers some years ago. I do, however, still care about the existence of a rational market for legal software, both for the benefit of lawyers and suppliers.

The Law Society has an important role to play in protecting the interests of its members and of justice in society as a whole, both of which are under constant threat. Everyone would be a lot better off if it would just stick to that.

Well said Tom. Your observations reflect my experience with the Law Society too (however I do hope you have retained some of your legal skills particularly around defamation, lol).
I previously held the chairman position at the LSSA and at the time I resigned my concern was that the organisation lacked authority, sadly given the outcome of this farce it would appear that remains so.

Tom/Alan and the rest of the readers – it appears that us ‘dinosaurs’ can see beyond the visions of the Law Society – so if they are backing Eclipse does that mean they are prepared to commercially support Eclipse in the event of a poor installation/badly planned projects etc etc….will they put their money where their mouths are?
Law Society support the firms they represent and not go running after the big ‘buck’ as so many organisations appear to do.
Free competitive market for all the suppliers is the only way to ensure innovation and growth for them that can deliver on their promises.

Roger

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