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Richards Butler on track for CRM investment despite US merger plans
[April 26, 2006]

Richards Butler on track for CRM investment despite US merger plans

(Legal IT Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)Richards Butler will plough on with its seven-figure investment in a new IT system, despite its merger with US law firm Reed Smith.

The top 25 firm, which signed a letter of intent with the US firm that will see the two outfits join forces by 1 January, 2006, this month confirmed to Legal IT that it has no plans to abandon its planned investment. The money will be spent on installing a client relation-ship management (CRM) system in a bid to improve its relations and marketing capability with key clients. Richards Butler is thought to be one of the few remaining top 30 UK firms that does not already have a CRM system. Part of the reason for continuing to support the CRM initiative is down to the fact that Reed Smith is also bereft of such a package, according to a spokesman for Richards Butler. He said: "We will still be going ahead [with the plans]. It is going to the partners and it is top of our list of things to get done, as business development is a strong point for us. It will be fundamental."

The CRM system was originally championed by Richards Butler's marketing executive, Meirion Jones, who joined from Lovells in October 2005. Once it receives the final seal of approval, the intention is to have the system operational by the summer, but the firm's merger plans with Reed Smith could push this timetable back, Jones conceded to Legal IT. Its introduction coincides with the firm's recent decision to consolidate its cash collection and client services policy information into a single system, labelled `C3'. This system has been developed by Richards Butler's in-house IT staff. The merger with Reed Smith, which would be one of only a handful of transatlantic mergers, will create a firm of over 1,300 lawyers with a global turnover of $725m (414m) and 300 lawyers in the UK. It follows the collapse of Richards Butler's merger talks in 2004 with New York-based firm Proskauer Rose.

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