Richard Hodkinson joins Freeths as CTO
Richard Hodkinson has joined Freeths as its first-ever chief technology officer, as the UK top 60 law firm engages in a transformation programme that will see it overhaul its underlying technology stack before moving on to more strategic planning.
Hodkinson was previously CTO at DWF, where he was a member of the executive board as well as chairman of DWF’s software arm DWF360. A legal tech veteran, before DWF he was group IT and operations director at Irwin Mitchell.
Freeths, which outsources much of its back office, is led by CEO Peter Smith and managing partner Philippa Dempster and until now decisions around its technology stack have been led by the partnership.
In July we revealed that Freeths had opted to replace its bespoke Lexis Axxia-based case management system with sharedo, which will run alongside Linetime Liberate and is currently in pilot in the private client and real estate departments.
Earlier this year seen the 860-staff firm swapped out its sunsetted Lexis Axxia practice management system for Aderant Expert. Both the Aderant and slicedbread implementations will be run through Nikec Hubshare – which, as we revealed at the start of July, Freeths has selected as its new collaborative project management portal.
The Aderant and sharedo implementation have been led to date by Kathryn Gray, who joined in February as senior implementation manager. Gray led the selection of Hubshare.
The firm’s desktop infrastructure is being replaced, with around two thirds now using Microsoft HP Minis and a third Surface Pros.
The firm will select a new document management system by 2020, according to White, who told Legal IT Insider: “The background to Richard’s hire is that we’ve been growing considerably and now have 12 offices with a turnover just short of £80m and we’ve decided to invest in IT and are in the process of putting in a new network and investing in new software. We committed to Aderant, which we bought at the beginning of this year and plan to roll out in November next year. We will be acquiring a new DMS and new intranet over the next couple of years.”
The firm has long turned to Quiss Technology for its helpdesk training to manage its network but White says: “Because of our investment we felt that we should have a senior in-house resource, hence creating the brand new position of CTO.
“A large element of the decision making will be made by Richard on a day-to-day basis and more strategic decisions will involve me and the management board”.
While the 800-staff firm’s recent Aderant selection is on premises the firm is not averse to using cloud solutions and is a client of Mimecast, Select HR and document sharing tool Egress.
Speaking to Legal IT Insider Hodkinson said: “There’s plenty to do, which is great because I can make a difference and I hope, once a lot of this modernisation work has been completed, we will have scope to do some more transformational stuff.
“There’s a little bit of catching up and they recognise that but we’ll get there very quickly and have an aggressive programme so this time next year we’ll probably be done and talking about what do we do next.”
He adds: “Clients are getting more specific about the quality of services they require and the differentiator in services is usually via technology.”
Hodkinson is in the process of having discussions with stakeholders and will present his views to the board early next year.
Unlike at DWF, he will run a very small team of five and says: “There is work to do around helping it to mature.”
With Quiss taking care of the service desk infrastructure, LAN, WAN and print, Hodkinson observes: “An awful lot of stuff has gone to third parties so it will be a case of looking at the team and seeing what its role is in life.”