DC-based Howrey Simon Arnold & White, LLP has chosen enterprise resource management software SAP to run key business processes. This may be a first for a US-based firm. 

According to an SAP press release, “[t]he first phase of Howrey’s implementation will include SAP® solutions for financial accounting; management accounting; client and order management; engagement management, including time and expense management and invoice management; and business analytics.” The system will run on hardware from Sun Microsystems.

Anecdotally, I do not know of any other US law firm that has installed SAP; I have heard that at least one firm in the UK has. It will be interesting to see if SAP for Professional Services will gain traction in the legal market. Presumably, it would do so at the expense of other financial management, time and billing, and HR systems. From the perspective of a large law firm’s CIO, it cannot hurt to have another player in this space.

I am intrigued by the press release reference to “first phase.” It will be interesting to observe what phase two brings and what other benefits this industrial-strength software can have for large law firms. SAP may unintentionally tip its hat a bit when it refers to “order management,” language that does not reflect legal market reality. Yet in my experience, there is a gap – both in software and mindset – in managing client matters that remains to be filled, so there is no lack of opportunity to put the software to good use. And bringing an industrial mindset to law firms is a good thing in my opinion.