Simmons & SimmonsSimmons & Simmons is a leading international law firm with over 1,800 people and 20 offices located in major business and financial centres throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Their lawyers provide clients with world class legal advice, whenever and wherever they need it.

Information Services supports the firm’s lawyers by providing the essential legal and business materials necessary for their work and assisting in the use of those materials for research. Access to prompt and accurate information is obviously vital to their legal teams.

Simmons & Simmons’ Information Services staff first saw Heritage demonstrated at Online 2004 when they were gathering information about potential systems to replace their previous package (Cairs Total Library) in their London office. They then visited the IS Oxford website where they found it helpful to be able to try out test version of Heritage Online (

After initial on-site demonstrations of seven library systems, a tender document was issued to three suppliers. Lorna Goulding, Information Resources Manager, outlines what they were looking for:

“The firm’s lawyers need to retrieve resources quickly when conducting research for our clients, sometimes outside of the normal working hours, so it was important that the system could provide excellent desktop access to the catalogue via the intranet. Also, we wanted a system that would provide good management information to assist us in providing a more efficient service to our lawyers. In particular the system needed to be able to cope effectively with the range of serial publications we take, and enable us to manage book circulation, including overdue notices, more efficiently.”

After reviewing the tender responses, and a further on-site demonstration, a decision was made to select Heritage. This selection was due to a number of factors, including:

“Good value, also it was the best we saw for managing serials. It was comforting that IS Oxford already had experience of dealing with migrations from our previous system.”

Heritage was installed at Simmons & Simmons in February 2006, with three days of staff training in March that year. Since Heritage is an off-the-shelf product, the implementation is generally very straightforward and the entire project can be handled by just a few key staff at IS Oxford. This avoids expensive project management costs. Simmons & Simmons staff had prepared well, and this helped facilitate a smooth transition:

“It was relatively pain free although we did need a day’s consultancy when we were setting up the system. We managed to fit a lot into that day and it helped enormously. The data migration went well, helped by the fact that we had spent much time data cleansing and mapping in preparation.”

Lorna was very pleased with the help and support they received from IS Oxford staff during the process:

“All have been very helpful. Sales staff provided us very promptly with an evaluation copy of the software for testing and Emma came in twice to provide detailed demonstrations and answer all our questions. We had a day’s consultancy when we were setting up the system which was very valuable – Robert quickly understood what we wanted to do and followed up with detailed notes. Support staff have been patient as we’ve struggled with some of the more complex aspects of the serials module. The training was good, it took place in-house and it was very helpful to be trained on our own data. We have not had any refresher training as yet.”

Our Support Services team provide help to Heritage customers via telephone, email, fax or remotely via the Internet. There is also a dedicated support website, from which it is possible to download an ever increasing range of helpsheets and frequently asked questions (FAQs), as well as patches and upgrades. According to Lorna, “the helpsheets are especially useful, a good supplement to the manual”. The website is, of course, available 24/7, and is particularly useful when the support line is busy or when seeking answers to queries out of hours. Lorna’s experience of the support service has been good, although she does point out that “it has at times been frustrating to have to wait for an answer during busy times and, particularly with serials, we have found that some support staff know the system a lot better than others!”. We appreciate this and have recently appointed a named support guide to each customer, who initially handles all calls from that customer but who can also direct queries to the relevant module expert in the case of trickier questions (or, in some cases, to the developer who actually wrote the software in the first place)!

Another aspect of Heritage support is Marvin, our list server, which is available to all Heritage customers with a support contract. Each message submitted to the list is forwarded to everybody else on the list and some useful discussions develop as a result. Any information which might be useful to others can be submitted and many find it an invaluable service. Simmons & Simmons are members of Marvin:

“Although we have not submitted any questions yet, it is interesting to see what other users are doing and get an insight into how Heritage is used elsewhere.”

Heritage has been in use for some time now, and all of the collection in the London office Information Centre is catalogued on Heritage. It includes textbooks, journals, law reports, encyclopaedias, grey literature, and looseleaf publications. Lorna is very pleased with Heritage and the service provided by IS Oxford:

“We are able to offer a more efficient service to our lawyers, so that they can respond promptly to clients. Heritage Online provides our lawyers with desktop access to our catalogue and they can quickly find out which books are available.  It is easier to keep track of books on loan as we can now deliver overdue notices by email which busy lawyers respond to more readily. This means we know where important titles are if they are required urgently for a client matter. Processes for chasing overdue material are improved which helps us ensure our lawyers receive important books and journals promptly. Future plans include making more use of the SDI features to notify lawyers of new titles automatically. As we build up the loan statistics they will provide useful information when considering the purchase of new editions.”

2010 Update

Having used Heritage for a number of years now, we recently contacted Lorna to ask her how she feels about Heritage and working with IS Oxford: 

What are your favourite features in Heritage?
We found the demonstration database very useful when we first started using the system to practice with tasks, eg setting up subscriptions, and to test various options. The reports feature provides a very flexible tool for designing reports.
Have you linked Heritage to any other systems in your institution, such as Moodle, Sharepoint, Aquabrowser, MyPC, Txtools, Screenreader software, a management information system or similar? If so, any comments about the integration process or success of the integration?
Heritage is one of Simmons & Simmons' five key knowhow and information collections covered by the firm's enterprise search solution from Recommind. Recommind MindServer provides Simmons & Simmons' network of lawyers with a single search interface for these core information sources. Integrating Heritage into Recommind has increased awareness across our office network of the range of material held in our information centres, and of Heritage itself. Technical integration relies on a connector, provided by IS Oxford, between Recommind and Heritage, and also ongoing analysis and reviews of the key metadata fields and the mappings that support the set of universal filters that apply across all five sources. In 2009 we extended use of Heritage to our Madrid office, and IS Oxford assisted with both the set up and the integration of that additional dataset into Recommind.
How have you found the support service from IS Oxford staff?
We've had a very good response when we have contacted the support service - fast and effective. We use the list server Marvin to keep up to date with other users' issues and how they are using Heritage, with the aim of picking up tips.
Have you used the support website? How useful did you find it?
We use the support website for its excellent library of documentation, particularly the helpsheets.
Do you have any other comments you would like to make about IS Oxford or Heritage?
We have had excellent refresher training sessions from Eoin Garland who also provided exercises for us to test ourselves after the training.

Simmons & Simmons operate Heritage with thirteen concurrent staff licences, Heritage Online, the Serials Management Module, Heritage Connect and Quickcat Online. They have also extended the use of Heritage to their Madrid and Paris offices.


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