Liverpool Group & Liverpool Law Society Joint Meeting: Contemporary Legal Practice

April 30, 1998

Over 70 North West Practitioners assembled in Liverpool LawSociety’s Conference Suite for the second SCL meeting of 1998.

Two well known local practitioners, Andrew Holroyd of Jackson & Canter, ahigh street firm, and Guy Wallis of Davies Wallis Foyster, a commercial firm,talked about their uses of technology. Ken Moody, a supplier to the legalprofession, concluded the meeting by giving an overview of secure and insecureelectronic mail in the context of electronic commerce.

Andrew Holroyd said that it was his belief that the successful use ofinformation technology is not about the technology itself but about themanagement of the firm and its employees and changes in their working practicesto obtain the best out of the technology. Effective use of informationtechnology is essential for high street practices with the advent of legal aidblock contracts, for example. His firm had embraced the technology and is nowmaking full use of internal and external e-mail, research on the Internet, etc.Andrew emphasised the need to take the training of staff in informationtechnology seriously. The investment of so much money in expensive hardware andsoftware deserves a proportionate investment in training. He advocated theestablishment of an ‘IT Information Implementation Committee’. He concludedby stressing that the management input was considerable and never ending butworth the benefits to the business.

Guy Wallis, aided by an on-line demonstration on his office PC, described howhis firm’s internal e-mail system assists him in the management of the firm.He gave the meeting a fascinating tour of his firm’s Intranet: it acted inpart as an in-house electronic library, serviced by the firm’slibrarian/information officer who refined the vast amount of legal and otherinformation available to practitioners on a basis which enabled browsing andordering of substantive material from the PC screen. The Intranet also containedsuch practically useful information as a full firm’s telephone directory, CVsof all fee-earners, making the cutting and pasting of CVs into client proposalsand tenders quick and easy. Guy also demonstrated how he uses his wordprocessing software to maintain lists of contacts and other useful marketinginformation. Finally, he demonstrated his new voice recognition system Via Voiceand its use in practice, the speed with which the computer had become accustomedto his voice in the one or two weeks since he started using it surprising manypeople.

Ken Moody gave a clear outline of what e-mail is, the difference betweensecure and insecure e-mail, the manner in which insecure e-mail messages arecirculated on the Internet and secure e-mail on such secure systems as X400 andIBM, and secure e-mails passing not through ISPs but through VANs (Value AddedNetworks).

Interest in the content of the meeting was such that over 20 people stayedbehind after the official finishing time to continue discussion and see afurther demonstration of Via Voice.