Eclipse

Articles filed under Newsletter features

Times are changing. The way we create, share and consume information has evolved rapidly and so to has the way we work. Now, more than ever, not only is it possible, but it is vitally important that a firm has remote access to its data from a multitude of devices.

Why do we need remote access?

If you are only able to work from the office, you are putting unnecessary restrictions on yourself and your business. You may remember ‘The Beast from the East’, where this became a reality for many as roads became impassable, trains were severely delayed, and schools closed meaning parents had to stay at home.

Wouldn’t it be perfect if, despite not being able to come to work, they could still work anyway? Well now they can. With browser-based software, such as DPS Spitfire, all they would need to do is log in online and get to work. It really is that simple.

At Quill, we’ve recently launched an outsourced typing service, called Quill Type, in association with Law Society-accredited Document Direct. Here’s why the new addition to our outsourcing portfolio has come about…

Outsourced typing services are gaining traction in legal circles as law firms alleviate the unmanageable demands upon their limited internal typing resources.

You see, it’s the very nature of law that means practices generate lots of paperwork. Each legal matter requires a series of correspondence and documentation between solicitor, client, barrister and court. Other organisations are often involved too, for example HM Revenue & Customs, Land Registry and estate agents in residential conveyancing cases. These third parties necessitate interaction, mostly via written methods.

A constant stream of technological innovations has now become the norm, with each new technology promising to be a game-changer for business in the future. Artificial intelligence (AI) immediately comes to mind as the latest ‘silver bullet’. In fact, the widespread view is that AI is going to take the legal sector by storm – and many law firms are impatient to get on the ‘bandwagon’.

Whilst it’s important that law firms explore these new technologies – that may or may not deliver on their perceived potential in their current form – with vigour to evolve and innovate; it’s also vital that they exploit existing proven technologies and approaches that are optimised and available ‘today’. Often these existing technologies and methods are forgotten in the excitement of chasing the ‘next big thing’ – which in time meets the same fate as the existing technology – ie remains under-utilised and hence its potential is never fully exploited for business gain.

Craig TaylorIf you ask an insurer what the three biggest risks are when providing cover to a law firm they will likely respond with ‘conveyancing, conveyancing and conveyancing’. An ever-increasing market pressure on price and a push towards high-volume, low-margin workloads in an extremely competitive market are doing nothing to reduce a law firm’s exposure to risk. Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) is probably a firm’s biggest cost after salaries, and reports indicate that sole practitioners are paying around 7 per cent of turnover.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) suggests that property represents a disproportionate level of negligence and that residential conveyancing accounts for 26 per cent of indemnity payouts, with one of the root causes being lack of adequate risk management.

The big question is what steps can you take to mitigate risk as a modern forward-thinking firm whilst increasing efficiencies and remaining competitive? Here is some advice for a law firm on how to reduce risk:

Legal research is regarded as one of the necessary expenses of the legal profession. It’s a task that needs to be done to ensure that arguments are robust, and to build the most comprehensive case possible, but it is a time-consuming task. This is why legal research is often delegated to trainees and newly qualified solicitors, who are less expensive than those more established in the profession. However, while this does make legal research cheaper to conduct, it certainly does not make it cheap.
In order to get an idea of the true costs of legal research, we recently conducted a case study with a firm based in the west of England, with a focus on those who carry out this research on a day-to-day basis. We examined their newly qualified head count of over 50, and their average salary of £40,000. After determining that they spend 30% to 40% of their time conducting research, this resulted in an estimated salary bill of over £750,000 for legal research.

This article is about a new product created by my firm called Crosselerator™ which I immodestly believe is likely to be one of the most profitable pieces of software for users that they’ll ever own. It was producing enquiries for us almost as soon as we started using it, and as I write this (Jan 2018) we are still 2 months away from any serious marketing. If you want to skip the “why” and just look at the “how”, scroll down to “How it Works”; the detail is in the series of videos on the Crosselerator YouTube channel. It takes only 15 minutes to watch them all.

We describe Crosselerator as “the software that turns everyday email into income – every day”. It is the first tech product our firm has built where the target market is not specifically professional practices: it can be used by any “silo” business (most largeish businesses are).

A document or record today can take many forms – paper, email, voicemail, SMS, messaging and so on. This, coupled with the continual pace of technological change and ever-growing regulatory demands, the business imperative for a strategic and comprehensive information lifecycle-led approach to document management has now become critical. The traditional approach to document management is no longer fit for purpose.

The following are the most pressing reasons why all law firms, regardless of size, need a robust approach to the function:

Sigmoid curve

Richard Hugo-Hamman, executive chairman of LEAP, discusses change and how to use technology to keep ahead of the curve.

Your law firm is a business, growth and profitability is paramount. You want to see your client base grow and your profits increase. More importantly, you don’t want to go backwards just because you are so busy working in the business that you don’t notice what is happening. You may have other goals – opening another office or being recognised as experts in a niche field. Whatever your measure of success, you want it to endure.

Creating consistent, long-term growth can prove elusive. The best way to generate long-term growth is through the regular introduction of change to create new ways of doing things. For many businesses, including law firms, the clearest path to continued success is through the regular implementation of new technology in an ongoing cycle.

This needs a culture of innovation so that your whole firm is accustomed to continuous improvement.

Businesswoman in Cubicle

Success in business

The ultimate marker of a successful business is the strength of its bottom line. Profitability is everything if you want to survive and thrive. The route to healthy profits is maximising income and minimising costs.

You don’t necessarily need us to tell you about maximising income. Revenue generation is your forte, achieved by good marketing to create new business opportunities in the first place, and even better legal service provision and client care thereafter to secure a stream of repeat and referral business.

Your legal software provider can assist in this area by offering solutions containing features such as automation to reduce your workload, application availability for greater uptime, intuitive time recording to capture more chargeable activity and advanced analytics to monitor performance, to name a few. But that’s not the main focus here. We’re concentrating on minimising costs.

LEAP devices

The continuing advancement of cloud technology and the new ownership regulation means it has never been easier to start a law firm. Mobility, simpler and lower cost technology and widespread acceptance of remote working is motivating legal entrepreneurs wanting to start their own practice.

“Every decision is binding no matter whether it is reported in the regular series of Law Reports, or is unreported. Once you have the transcript, you can cite it as of equal authority to a reported decision. It behoves every counsel or solicitor to find, if he can, a case – reported or unreported – which will help him advise or win his case.” – Lord Denning

In the days of printed law reports, there was a very real upper limit to how many cases could be reported – you can only fit so many in a book.

With digital content, no such physical problem exists, but other constraints remain. The process of producing high-quality reports of lengthy judgments is time-consuming and expensive. Consequently, fewer than 20 per cent of UK higher court cases end up in law reports – either leading or specialist series (based on the number of reported and unreported cases in the Justis database of UK superior court judgments).

It’s worth noting this limit is simply indicative of resources, rather than legal significance. It is a statement that only 20 per cent of cases can be reported, and says nothing about how many should be.

quentin-huntA surprisingly large number of lawyers are unaware of the right to bring a private prosecution and the potential benefits that such a course of action can bring. A private prosecution is a ‘criminal law’ action and is prosecuted in the criminal courts but if utilised effectively, it can be a very useful tactic either as an alternative or in combination with Civil Litigation. The following are areas where private prosecutions have been used to great effect: