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How flexible IT helped to lay the foundations for expansion at law firm Philip Lee

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Philip Lee is one of Ireland’s fastest growing corporate and commercial law firms. Owing to its continued success the firm expects total staff headcount will grow to 200 people by the end of this year, with the addition of 50 new lawyers. Earlier this year, it moved into its new 2,500 square metre head office on Burlington Road and plans are well underway to open a new London office, in addition to its office in San Francisco. It was named as Corporate Law Firm of the Year at the 2021 Irish Law Awards.

As Philip Lee has achieved these milestones during a time of rapid expansion, it has had the vital support of flexible IT together with the backing of various trusted service providers. The process of reaching this point began in 2018: then, Jason McGovern joined as IT manager. At the time, most of the firm’s staff were still using desktop PCs and there was limited remote access. Jason set out to modernise and secure the firms technology portfolio and one of the first projects he led was to replace all end-user desktop machines with Windows 10 laptops, all with remote access while ensuring they used the latest in security standards which, gave staff the freedom to work from any location safely.

“After that project, staff had the ability to work remotely taking our whole IT systems with them to their home, court or client meetings. We also made the move to Office 365 as well as some other cloud platforms which meant our people had emails and other systems easily accessible on their mobile devices. We have carried out many complex projects over the years and from a technology point of view, those I mentioned were the simplest projects carried out in my time here - but they had the most dramatic effect because they weren’t solely about new technology, they were about changing the culture.” he says.

This was before Covid-19 struck, and it meant the firm’s staff were ready for a longer-term transition to remote working when the pandemic forced mass office closures. “With the benefit of hindsight, the upgrade was a great move, we were able to move to a remote working model seamlessly” Jason recalls.

 After the success of the early IT projects that Jason oversaw, Philip Lee has since swapped out its old IT disaster recovery systems for a fully hosted and managed technology infrastructure, cloud-based disaster recovery and backup, and desktop as a service.

Instead of needing to buy new hardware, estimating in advance how much capacity it would need over several years, and then manage the infrastructure on site, SureSkills monitors and manages the infrastructure 24/7 on behalf of the firm. This ensures the partners, lawyers and support staff can access their important files and stay in contact with colleagues and clients at any time, from any location – so their office is always with them wherever they are working.

“Like any IT Manager I don’t have unlimited resources, so being able to pass any support issues to my team or to SureSkills is invaluable. Having that extra resource that’s familiar with our setup is vital. SureSkills know our infrastructure almost as intimately as we do and I can email them as if they’re one of my team,” adds Jason.

Because the new IT infrastructure is hosted in the cloud, it meant the firm was able to manage the recent office relocation painlessly, without needing to shut down the IT systems.

As a measure of how important information technology has become to the firm, Jason was recently promoted to IT Director. To carry out his new remit, he relies on the right combination of an in-house IT manager and two IT administrators, together with trusted external partners. SureSkills fully managed service means Jason can dedicate more time to focusing on supporting the firm’s strategic direction and innovating with IT.

“The partners in the firm are very progressive when it comes to technology, they recognise the value it can bring to the firm and their clients. There is a huge degree of trust from their side in the IT Team so we work hard to ensure that trust is not misplaced. Making sure our IT systems are reliable, safe, secure and an asset to the business can be a challenge but one we are able to meet. We work hard to ensure the firm is cutting edge and innovative when it comes to technology all while keeping an eye on what’s coming around the next corner” he says.

Looking back on 2018 compared to now, Jason can see “vast differences” in the firm’s IT. “Now it’s not just IT support but a service we provide, not just to the firm but to our clients. The tools we can provide are secure and allow us as a firm to give our clients a class leading service while reducing the cost for our clients through AI, automation and well as other cutting-edge technology.

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