THE BUSINESS OF LAW
Time to transform
The Technologist and Futurist explains how technological shift and market transformation has created immense opportunities for lawyers.
Adam highlights the latest transformations in people, business models and brand at National Accident Helpline.
Amanda Illing How do you stay ahead of the pack in a traditional marketplace? Amanda Illing, Hardwicke Chambers, reports.
Review Expert geo-risk analysis and transaction-led advisory
Unrivalled manual assessment and expert insight
Designed in consultation with Property and Environmental Lawyers. Review offers pragmatic and commercially focused expert insight, deal orientated recommendations and guidance on next steps for high value property transactions, complex industrial sites and redevelopments. Review has been redesigned and enhanced with new features, improved layout and design for clearer navigation - streamlining workflow. To find out more, visit: groundsure.com/mlm or contact your preferred search provider.
08444 159 000
WELCOME to 2019! It’s been a busy and enlightening few weeks in the run up to getting this issue ready – enlightening in the sense of identifying what the legal sector really thinks inspires and aids ‘transformation and change’. In a nutshell (although you can read for yourself of course!), for change to be a success, you need to bring your people on board – captivating individuals and clients as well as your supporters and providers. It should go without saying that harnessing the power of your people works – but do firms do more than pay lip service on this? Find out in our interviews and features.
My greatest thanks to our contributors for this issue, who have their own take on transformation in the legal sector in terms of what’s on the horizon; what change looks like; how to manage it and make a long-term ‘transformation’ success; and, what to consider and which tools to take advantage of.
their professional life then I highly recommend that you dip into the fantastic JMC Legal Recruitment supplement, created to compliment this issue. The supplement aims to help you get your dream job or that elusive partnership and open your eyes on the changing world of work in the modern legal sector.
The theme of this issue is, at it’s most basic, about putting your money and time where your mouth is, having a strong vision, the support and being bold. I am delighted to share a very enlightening read with you to help kick-start your transformation plans for the year ahead.
Whether it’s the business of law or your career, now’s the time to change it up for 2019 - you won’t be sorry!
For those looking to transform
Co-Editor, Modern Law Magazine. 01765 600909 firstname.lastname@example.org www.modernlawmagazine.com
Editorial Contributors Adam Bullion, Head of Marketing, InfoTrack
Dr Matthew Terrell, Head of Marketing, Justis
Ben Mitchell, Global Head of Commercial Operations, DocsCorp
Mark Holt, Commercial Director, Frenkel Topping
Charles Christian, Editor, Legal IT Insider
Mariette Hughes, Senior Ombudsman, Legal Ombudsman
Christina Blacklaws, President, The Law Society of England & Wales Colin Fowle, Managing Director, Blue Car Technologies Limited
Mark Richardson, Operations Manager, VFS Legal Funding
Darren Gower, Marketing Director, Eclipse Legal Services
Richard Allen, Senior Consultant, Burcher Jennings
Dave Seager, Development Director, SIFA Ltd
Rob Cross, Research Manager, Legal Services Board
Professor Hugh Koch, Birmingham City University
Stephen Griffiths, Tax Director, Griffiths Allen
James Dobson, Marketing Director, Smartsearch
Susan Fairbrass, Marketing Manager, Geodesys
Jane Malcolm, Executive Director, SRA. Jason Connolly, Managing Director, JMC Legal Recruitment
Wayne Shinn, Business Development Executive, Unoccupied Direct
Lee Rennie, Co-Founder & Director, Melu Chat
Yvonne Hirons, Global CEO, Perfect Portal
ISSUE 40 ISSN 2050-5744
Co-Editor | Emma Waddingham Co-Editor | Poppy Green Project Manager | Martin Smith Events Sales | Kate McKittrick
Modern Law Magazine is published by Charlton Grant Ltd ©2018
All material is copyrighted both written and illustrated. Reproduction in part or whole is strictly forbidden without the written permission of the publisher. All images and information is collated from extensive research and along with advertisements is published in good faith. Although the author and publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information in this publication was correct at press time, the author and publisher do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause.
KEY CONTRIBUTORS EDITORIAL BOARD
Joseph Raczynski, Technologist and Futurist at Thomson Reuters Legal, explains the immense ‘technological shift’ opportunities for lawyers.
Alex Hamilton We spoke to Alex Hamilton, CEO of Radiant Law, to hear about how its culture of daily transformation in the firm’s approach to service and efficiency
Pip Thomas Modern Law speaks to Pip Thomas, Hugh James, to gain some theoretical insight and tips to prepare for transformation.
Adam Nabozny Adam shares National Accident Helpline’s latest transformations in its people, business models and brand.
How to promote innovation in the legal sector Rob Cross, Legal Services Board (LSB)
Innovation for innovators Jane Malcolm, Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
Making lawtech work for the legal sector Christina Blacklaws, The Law Society of England & Wales
Price transparency Mariette Hughes, Legal Ombudsman (LeO)
Track Changes can make all the difference Ben Mitchell, DocsCorp
Collaborate to transform Dave Seager, SIFA.
You said it: Your thoughts on legal tech Adam Bullion, InfoTrack UK
Clear transformation? Susan Fairbrass, Geodesys
Agile innovation Colin Fowle, Blue Car Technologies Limited
Delivering transformation & change Mark Richardson, VFS Legal Funding
Bots – ready or not, here they come Jonathan Silverman, Silverman Advisory
EDITORIAL BOARD CONTRIBUTORS
Transforming your firm into a ‘Resilient’ one Professor Hugh Koch, Birmingham City University
The Discount Rate transformation Mark Holt, Frenkel Topping
Plan, plan, plan ahead Jason Connolly, JMC Legal Recruitment
Point of difference Richard Allen, Burcher Jennings
Achieving lasting transformation Lindsay Barthram, Wilson Legal Solutions
Yvonne Hirons, Perfect Portal
Huddle up to transformation Wayne Shinn, Unoccupied Direct
AI: beyond the hype Dr Matthew Terrell, Justis
Stephen Griffiths, Griffiths Allen
Regulation-led transformation? James Dobson, Smartsearch
Our transformation Andrew Simpson, The Coal Authority
Transforming Transparency Ochresoft
A heritage of innovation Tony Rollason, Landmark Information
Transforming the searches customer journey David Phillips & Catherine Shiers, Groundsure
Digitally connected SearchFlow
‘Call for sites’: know your options Paul Addison, DevAssist
Safeguard your client & your practice Robert Kelly, Stewart Title
How do you stay ahead of the pack in a traditional marketplace? Amanda Illing, Hardwicke Chambers, reports. How resilient is your firm against the growing cyber threat? Francesca Taylor, YUDU Sentinel Strive for inclusivity Amanda Hamilton, The National Association of Licenced Paralegals Big Bang versus baby steps Charles Christian, Founder of the Legal IT Insider Case study – Eclipse Harvey Howell Solicitors selects Eclipse’s Proclaim Practice Management system to aid with a rapidly expanding client base Five good reasons Lee Rennie, Melu Chat
55 56 59 60
Stephen Ward, Clerksroom
EDITORIAL BOARD CONTRIBUTORS
An AmTrust International Division
The Victoria Warehouse, Manchester
GOOD LUCK TO ALL THOSE SHORTLISTED! LOOK OUT for our WINNERS write up in the next issue Event Enquiries
01765 600909 or email email@example.com Kindly sponsored by
Joseph Raczynski Embarking on an Era of Abundance in the Legal Industry: technological shift creates immense opportunity for lawyers who embrace technology, writes Joseph Raczynski, Technologist and Futurist, Thomson Reuters Legal. Over the course of the next five years, the legal industry will be flush with opportunity. While much of the rote legal work will be done by automation, producing a period of interstitial angst at law firms, burgeoning areas of technology necessitating legal counsel will flourish. As a brief preface, I will bypass the normal discussion surrounding how tools are making lawyers more productive and law firms more profitable. That is a given. These tools are plentiful; including research services that coalesce information intuitively tools that comb through millions of documents seeking relevant words; or, artificial intelligence (AI) enabled applications reviewing 10,000 contracts in hours compared to months required when done manually. While these applications constantly improve, they are becoming commonplace for law firms. This articleâ€™s focus is preparing for the next legal transformation for law firmsâ€”prompted by technological advances.
A near trite concept at this juncture, technology is advancing at an exponential pace which is creating incredible possibilities in many industries—especially within the legal industry. One example that typifies this acceleration is a recent creation at MIT Labs with ‘AlterEgo’ . The white device wraps around the ear, hugs the lower jawline and rests below the lips. It contains four sensors that can hear your internal thoughts. Yes, AlterEgo can read your mind. Practically, without verbalizing a word one can communicate with Internet connected devices, like a TV, a computer, or a car. A conversation with another person wearing AlterEgo could occur without verbalising a word. This is a single example, of a possible myriad, which exemplifies our current era of swift technological change. With this sort of mind-boggling technology available, it raises the question, what will the legal landscape look like in the future and how can lawyers and law firms adjust to this sort of rapid change?
Algorithms Specific instructional processes (if/then statements), known as algorithms, have existed in computer language for decades. Over the last five years algorithms have matured, but perhaps more importantly so has the flood of data— widely considered the new oil. The synthesis of the advanced algorithms and the ability to process that data has ushered in new industries. One such industry is driverless cars. These vehicles are already being used around the world, and algorithms are a main operational feature in the car’s computer driving programme. This area of technology, alone, will be a significant boon to the legal industry. The implications of rules, regulations, laws, and ethics in this space are immense. Lawyers will need to be trained, or at the very least be far more familiar with how various algorithms work. Who decides culpability when driverless cars go awry? How do we navigate the legal ethical dilemmas of onboard computers deciding between hitting a child or an elderly person crossing the street? Algorithms are a platform and will permeate most applications, propagating throughout
most of our lives. Lawyers will likely need to understand their uses and implications, in the near future, in order to provide adequate representation to their clients.
Biotech Over the last decade, engineers have deciphered how to modify the immune systems of bacteria to edit genes in other living organisms, like algae, small mammals—and now humans too. Over the last month, Chinese doctors claimed to have created the first designer baby by enabling one to be born which is resistant to HIV, by genetically alerting the embryo. CRISPR, pronounced ‘crisper’, allows scientists to easily manipulate genes far faster and cheaper than ever before. Soon there will be significant work for law firms in this space. The implications are vast beyond how an IP lawyer would practice. A multitude of various specialised practice areas will now join the IP lawyer. When new genetically modified humans arrive, smarter or with greater athletic ability, opportunities will bloom for many other practice areas. This will also impact the insurance industry, as two classes of humans will evolve creating different playing fields. Will genetically modified humans receive better insurance rates, because they are less susceptible to disease? There are countless other legal impacts with CRISPR and gene alteration impacting multiple areas of law and business.
Internet of Things (IoT) With as many as 50 billion devices connected to the Internet over the next 10 years, we need lawyers able to understand the legal ramifications of this rapidly expanding technological reach. The depth and breadth of these interconnected gadgets cannot be underestimated, including devices connected to our brain, such as AlterEgo, to every appliance in a kitchen, car, phone—which will soon be a MR (Mixed Reality) headset. Within this scope, countless questions of data ownership, privacy, regulation, and intellectual property will arise. Education of how these devices work and what information is being gathered, perhaps surreptitiously, will all need to be understood by lawyers.
“While much of the rote legal work will be done by automation, producing a period of interstitial angst at law firms, burgeoning areas of technology necessitating legal counsel will flourish.” 8
“With as many as 50 billion devices connected to the Internet over the next 10 years, we need lawyers able to understand the legal ramifications of this rapidly expanding technological reach” Deep Fakes One of the more distressing developments of the last few years has been the creation of videos known as the Deep Fakes. The Deep Fakes are very realistic videos of someone famous, but are made by superimposing a computer-generated face on the real video and swapping out the audio with something nefarious (Example: https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=gLoI9hAX9dw ). Lawyers will need education and access to tools to help verify what is real and what is not for litigation purposes as well as transactional, as people increasingly make claims using video attestation. We will soon get to a point where we cannot trust video documentation and lawyers will have to contend with these issues.
Blockchain The ’trustless’ nature of a distributed ledger will undoubtedly have an impact on the legal industry, since transactions will be put on a blockchain. Increasingly there are whispers of a legal blockchain controlled by law firms in a consortium. This will impact most areas of legal practice. In the transactional practice, self-executing ‘Smart Contracts’ will be something everyone working in the legal profession will need to understand. Ethereum, the first blockchain platform to popularise the idea of the Smart Contract allows for people to code ‘if/then’ statements onto the blockchain or database with ease. Here is a scenario that uses a smart contract on the blockchain in the legal transactions. A lawyer writes a will for their client. The will stipulates that upon the parent’s death—their
â€œWe will soon get to a point where we cannot trust video documentation and lawyers will have to contend with these issues.â€?
two kids must be married, respectively, in order for them to receive a share of the estate. If one kid is married and the other kid is not, the kid that is married receives all assets. For simplicity the assets are all liquid in this example. The will is written and saved to a blockchain. It is in an immutable state, and the only people that have access to this document is the lawyers that drafted the will and her client. Once it is on the blockchain in a codified state, the smart contract starts checking every day through a trusted source, called an oracle (affirmed public record), to see if both parents are alive. One day the computer identifies that the parents have both died. The computer jumps to the next task to determine if both kids are married. Through another computer call to that oracle, it determines that one kid is married and the other kid is not, and subsequently sends 100 percent of the liquid assets to the kid that is married. This is a self-executing smart contract on a blockchain.
Drones A drone superhighway is coming. These are roadways in the sky where drones will be able to operate, away from the likes of Gatwick airport and other important safe zones. The ’droneification’ of our delivery systems will alter city landscapes. Lawyers will be called upon to interpret zoning laws, environmental conditions, insurance issues, labour law, privacy matters, liability issues, and construction law—as more people build landing pads off their flats. The age of drones will create a beehive of activity for law firms.
Cybersecurity By nearly all accounts Cybersecurity is the top concern for corporations and law firms outside of profitability. Data leakage and hacks are rampant the world over. Ransomware will likely continue for the next several years at least. According to one government official I recently met in the US, the world is simply waiting until the first significant cyber event which takes down a country’s infrastructure—such as the electrical grid, banks, or water systems. Law firms have rightly responded to the rapid increase of cybersecurity considerations over the last eight years. Increasingly, lawyers will need to better understand the dynamics of cyber-breaches for their own operation as well as client needs. The opportunity for law firms is immense in this space from litigation to advisement of mitigation measures for cybersecurity.
How Law Firms Can Thrive A renaissance in the legal industry is ahead, after a bit of discomfort based on some traditional legal work fading. As some of the rote work legal work dissipates in the coming years, an abundance of legal activity will commence in the emerging landscape driven by technology innovation. What I have discussed with law firms around the world is how they plan to prepare for the changes ahead: n Firms are beginning to create highly customisable technology education plans for their lawyers. They are inviting specialist from the newest industries: AI, blockchain, automotive, cybersecurity, IoT, and biotech. At a minimum, these required firmwide classes promote a basic understanding of each technology. The goal is for lawyers to be conversant in the technology when speaking to prospective clients. The plan creates a pathway for deeper levels of education if their practice necessitates it, which will be likely for many. n We are also seeing the early stages of more technical lawyers emerging. Traditionally, an IP lawyer carries this torch, but this is changing. Recently a blockchain consortium disclosed that lawyers make daily inquiries about how they can code blockchain enable technologies. Certainly not all lawyers will need to code, but those that have a proclivity for it will be better positioned for success. n Law schools around the world are pivoting. They still hold fast to the core curriculum, but quickly programming around emerging technologies is taking root. Law schools are connecting with start-ups—creating a synergy between the nascent legal minds and innovation. Universities are also partnering with some of the traditional legal sector vendors to aid students in understanding various technologies, processes, and applications for more efficient work with the business and practice of law. Advanced institutions are pushing students to understand algorithms, code, and become further enmeshed in technology. n Law firms are also sponsoring hackathons. The goal here to figure out better ways to improve process, which does not always have to be technical. Legal tech incubators have also started to proliferate by vendors, but also among some law firms.
n When gaps in technology exist within a law firm, tighter partnerships with companies who can assist on the legal technical aspects surrounding the mentioned fields will start. Boutique firms will arise with a focus on these technologies to help their clients, but also serve as consultants to the larger midsized firms without expertise. n There is little question that litigation will thrive going forward in each of these disciplines. Lawyers that become more technologically savvy will have a decided advantage in obtaining business. The era of abundance in the business and practice of law is on the horizon. The technological shifts that are occurring all over the world are setting up law firms, who are prepared, for bold new opportunities. One of the most important changes in the legal industry will be a need for lawyers to be educated on new technologies. As AI and blockchain become mainstream, those platform technologies will impact nearly every industry—meaning nearly every practice area lawyer will have to understand the basics of those technologies. The firms that embrace these changes afoot will be best positioned to thrive.
is a legal technologist and futurist, an innovator and early adopter of all things computer related at Thomson Reuters Legal.
“The technological shifts that are occurring all over the world are setting up law firms, who are prepared, for bold new opportunities.”
ALEX HAMILTON We spoke to Alex Hamilton, CEO and Co-Founder of Radiant Law, to hear about how its culture of daily transformation in the firm’s approach to service and efficiency helps to improve the creation, negotiation and management of commercial contracts for clients. MLM: Bring us up to speed with Radiant Law; what’s happened over the past 12 months to help you continue to transform your services for clients? AH: The big news for the last year has been our launch in North America. We set up ConRad in partnership with Conduit Law who are based in Toronto and are quickly gaining more new clients. I worked in New York for a year and it’s fun to be back in that market. It’s also terrific working with Peter Carayiannis at Conduit Law. The overall theme for the past 12 months has been to get our heads down and figure out the details so we can keep getting better. It’s been gratifying to stand back at the end of it – you’re never quite sure at the beginning how it’s going to look! MLM: Tell us a little about the improvements you’ve made. AH: We’ve done lots of things to continue to transform what we do. Firstly, we have really locked-in our Continuous Improvement Process. This is where we sit down with all of our clients and figure out their priorities to help improve their accounts and then deliver it – through a series of mini projects delivered once a quarter. That’s the way we work as a firm, to relentlessly review, improve and report, repeated every quarter. This has had a hugely positive impact on us completing work successfully for clients and meeting their needs. A lot of what we do is, fundamentally, to help clients complete their high volume contracts faster and improve the contracting process. I
“As we look at how we can get smarter, we’ve found we need a ‘ratchet’ approach, with documented ways of working adopted by the whole business that can then be changed. If you don’t have a shared way of working, you can’t get better together.” “I often say that there’s no silver bullet for this, it’s more about a silver shotgun cartridge approach.” 12
often say that there’s no silver bullet for this, it’s more about a silver shotgun cartridge approach. You have to keep making lots of small point improvements to get the right results for the client. You only figure out what needs to change when you’re in the trenches ‘doing’. It’s been a really gratifying year finding out what improvements to make then embed those changes in the culture. It’s fun! The other thing we have done is release the Radiant Benchmark. Last year we wrote down the Capability Maturity Model (very grand!) that sets out the journey companies go through to improve their contracting process. This year we turned that into the Radiant Benchmark. This is available on our website, allowing for a detailed and free report that tells you where you are in the journey and what to do next. This is a conversation starter for clients. Importantly, the report also means we have actual data of what’s going on. I talked about what the Radiant Benchmark data shows at last year’s Legal Geek conference (short version – there’s a lot to do still). The second thing we did is to undertake real analytics about the work we do. We found some staggering results – results that surprised even me, considering I’ve been around the block in contract work! I think there will be more and more data analysis undertaken in 2019. We have a professor of Lean Services working with our team. It’s fabulous to have him on board to embed this way of thinking into our team to help improve things. Lean is very data centric too. So our improvements continue and our work to embed that in our culture is also incredibly important for the year ahead.
As we look at how we can get smarter, we’ve found we need a ‘ratchet’ approach, with documented ways of working adopted by the whole business that can then be changed. If you don’t have a shared way of working, you can’t get better together. MLM: Do you find any geographical difficulties when your team is across the world? AH: Yes, that is an issue but it can be helped by adopting great communications systems and approaches like agile. I don’t think that many have truly cracked this yet. There are various things that do seem to help to some degree, for example: our conversations aren’t on email and we can’t create office documents internally. Everything we do internally is on Google Apps and Slack as well as other online systems, to ensure collaboration. We try to ensure everything we do is collaborative. We have a lot of teams - including a lot of developers around the world - so we think a lot about how we can work remotely, collaborate and be helpful. There are definitely best practice models to be taken from the software industry. We are also very flexible about the team working outside the office. This approach makes it easier to collaborate between countries. MLM: Do you look to other sectors to help improve and deliver your services? AH: I have been inspired by people such as: Ron Baker from the accounting world (with fixed pricing); ‘lean’ from the automotive industry, and; I have always found the software industry fascinating - I pay a lot of attention to the technology world. So we have three core pillars: the silver shotgun cartridge approach, using ratchets and stealing existing ideas from other industries. No-one is smart enough to do it all themselves, nor do we have the time to do it all! Like all good businesses, we rapaciously take from everywhere else! MLM: Who is responsible for bringing in new ideas from other industries? AH: Everyone. We ask the team to give talks about lessons that can be learned from other areas – such as agriculture - but it’s much broader than that. We encourage people to read
“Other sectors don’t come to law to nick ideas – we are behind as a sector – but there is a lot out there that can be applied to law.”
and share information from a wide range of sources. Other sectors don’t come to law to nick ideas – we are behind as a sector – but there is a lot out there that can be applied to law. MLM: You’ve barely mentioned the words ‘law’ or ‘lawyer’. Do you feel like a law firm? AH: s we do, still. I don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water: it’s about smart people working on hard problems, which is what lawyers do. I value the judgement calls that lawyers can bring and I don’t want to lose that. I just believe that we need to add other skills too. We help companies with their contracts, but we spend a lot of time working on how to improve the contracting process, not just getting the deals done. We have never been the kind of firm to ‘pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap’; we come with opinions on how to improve contracting as well as judgment calls on the particular legal issue. MLM: What has been the most powerful tool to help you be transformational for your clients.
“I have been inspired by people such as Ron Baker from the accounting world with fixed pricing, ‘lean’ from the automotive industry, and I have always found the software industry fascinating and I pay a lot of attention to the technology world.” 13
AH: The fundamental purpose of Radiant Law is to solve what I call the contracting problem: we want to make the whole contracting process better for the parties. I think this purpose differentiates us from many of the other NewLaw players, who can appear to be more focused on the business model than an underlying problem. We needed to change the business model to get the incentives right to allow us to work on our purpose, but being purpose-led is fundamental. As we seek to improve our approach, there a tension that we wrestle with: are we trying to be a knowledge-based organisation or an efficient organisation? Our base service is being transformational for the client – to help solve problems and look at how we can do things better, to advise and use our knowledge. Yet to achieve this, we need to be efficient about it. It’s about using the lean sense of efficiency – to change what matters to the client and not create waste. It’s important for us to get smarter at solving our clients’ problems, not how to get another hour out of our people every day.
CEO, Radiant Law.
Hugh James Two Central Square Seventh Floor Vista Lounge
Modern Law caught up with Pip Thomas, the award-winning Head of Learning and Development specialist at Hugh James, to gain some theoretical insight and practical tips into preparing your people for transformation â€“ in this case the significant relocation of the firmâ€™s HQ in Cardiff. 14
“Adding forthcoming changes to your team meeting agendas is a good start but sharing information on a regular basis is essential to the success of the change.”
MLM: What’s important to help people react best to change and adapt quickly? PT: In my experience, this is threefold. People can have a smoother transition when: • They can see clearly the problem with the situation now (why are we moving). • They have a clear understanding of how it could be better (benefits of improved working environment). • They have a plan of how to get there (a clearly communicated project plan with key milestones). The difficult thing about managing people through change is that you’ve actually got to progress through the change yourself and your reaction and acceptance may not be at the same rate as the team you are leading. This is where things can get a bit messy! A good starting point is to prepare yourself for how people react to change. MLM: How do you prepare for transformation? PT: In 1969, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross published her now well know ‘Change Curve’ or the ‘five stages of grief model’ as it was originally named. Whilst this model has its critics (often because of how far its interpretation has moved away from the original context of dealing with terminal diagnosis and bereavement), it can still prove to be a useful tool in understanding how we deal with change in a wider context.
MLM: Tell us more about the recent Hugh James HQ move – does a change of address really need that much emotional planning? PT: My working life has been dominated by the following 3 questions for the past 12 months: • Are you ready for the big move yet? • How’s the move going? • How was the move, all settled in? It’s no surprise really, given that moving home (or in our case office) is a huge change for anyone whether in their personal or professional life. The tangible aspect of change is always the easiest part to grapple with. In the case of an office move it’s the packing of boxes and the clearing out of cupboards which can come with a note of nostalgia, making the whole process a rather cathartic experience. Where the difficulty comes is in the handling of the psychological transition. Never underestimate the impact of a change of desk chair or a badly communicated seating plan on your workforce! If people don’t understand the rationale for the change, the odds are they’ll reject it.
By taking the time to relate the model to the world of management we can adopt its findings to help deal with the variety of responses we experience in the workplace during turbulent times – such as a large scale office move or restructure.
“It’s easy to forget in the eye of the storm that we might not have all received information at the same time, and so managers could be further along the change curve than the team they are leading.” 15
MLM: Can you assume everyone acts the same? How do you prepare for the variety of responses and spot engagement issues that might hamper transformation being a success? PT: It’s true to say that people react to difficult situations in a whole range of ways but there are some common patterns. For example, the Change Curve identifies the key stages that we typically go through when faced with a major change. The descriptions below look at the interpretation of the curve in its now more common context of the world of management and leadership: 1. Denial – The first stage is often a strong reaction when the individual refuses to accept the situation. Often illustrated by a ‘if I don’t acknowledge it, it’s not really happening’ response to the initial change message. 2. Anger – Once the realisation that the situation is in fact real hits, then the ‘why me’ stage kicks in. This can be where we psychologically look for someone or something to blame for the change in circumstance. This can even be turned inward as outbursts of anger with oneself. Proclamations of ‘it’s not fair’
Professional Compliance Professional Connections Since 1992, weâ€™ve been helping financial planning professionals build relationships with solicitors.
For more information about SIFA Professional, contact: Dave Seager | 07717 130929 | firstname.lastname@example.org
INTERVIEWS “Even when an organisation gives a clear reason for their change, speculation will abound so it’s important that you address this and involve your clients and contacts in your journey.” are common at this stage and are born out of the overriding feeling of frustration that takes hold. People can find fault in every little thing, ‘that open plan layout won’t work’, ‘clear desk policy is too harsh’ – anything they can latch on to and criticised becomes a way of lashing out at the bigger change.
good start but sharing information on a regular basis is essential to the success of the change.
3. Bargaining – The next stage is where the negotiating starts in order to in some way influence or alter the outcome of the proposed change. How would it work if I booked a meeting room out for myself? What if I work from home more? How about if I take on different work which doesn’t need to be done in the office? I could change! These are all examples of the ways that we can bring negotiations to the table in the hope of postponing or even eradicating the impact proposed change on ourselves.
PT: Even the smallest bit of information can have a huge impact when emotions are heightened during change. A little detail about a change to the brand of coffee may seem inconsequential to you but it could be the straw that breaks someone’s back if they are feeling like the change is something being ‘done to them’, rather than something they are invested in.
4. Testing – This fourth stage can be the most insular and contemplative of the stages. It is natural to feel sadness or fear at this stage. Individuals often become quiet and withdraw and it is hard to engage them in discussion. The wounds are felt deeply here and this is where patience and support is really required. It may not seem like it but these are actually signs that the person has been to move closer towards acceptance of the change. This is where the individuals are starting to let go of how things have worked in the past and think about how the future might be.
PT: As with all strategic decisions we should also consider ‘The Three C’s’: company, colleagues and, of course, clients. Believe it or not, it’s quite easy to overlook the impact a major change such as an office move might have on your clients.
MLM: Do you really need to share all the details of every little change to overcome this?
MLM: What about clients? How can or should they be considered in the pre-transformation stage?
A large scale, tangible, high profile move naturally prompts questions from clients and press alike: • What will the move mean for clients? • Is the move a statement of intent in terms of the strategic direction of the firm – a visible alignment to competitors or clearly pushing ahead of them?
5. Acceptance – This is where the individual starts adopt a more objective perspective in order to move forward. The acceptance comes from the realisation that the change is coming regardless of their position on it and that it is better to find a way to work with it than to fight against it. Positivity emerges as the individual tends to ask questions to reconcile how the change will be implemented and the impact it will have on them.
• Will clients worry that costs will be passed on to them in terms of a hike in fees? • Will clients be alienated by the type of move, does high-tech uber modern fit with the more tradition client base you’ve been known for and therefore is the move an intentional step away from that type of business and a play for diversification into different markets?
Some people can move swiftly from stage to stage, while others will linger longer. Taking the time to listen rather than to dismiss the reactions will help identify the different stages. Not everyone goes through the whole curve ‘in order’ but we must appreciate the transition of others through change to help them move positively beyond it, in order to deliver in their role.
For instance, the type of new office and its location may even concern clients that they may not be able to gain face-to-face access to their lawyer in the future or perhaps they may feel a little intimidated by the new office. These concerns are completely understandable and should be dealt with appropriately. In exactly the same way that you need to take your workforce on the journey with you, if you want to take your clients with you, the same applies to them.
MLM: Where might problems creep in? PT: Leaders and managers are likely to have to move through the stages of the curve before the people they are working with. This is partly because they tend to have more information before the rest of the team so can start working on their rationale for the change sooner. This in itself presents challenges as leaders are expected to move towards acceptance of change at a quicker rate in order to help facilitate others.
MLM: As a result of transformation, clients may assume you will change as a firm. How do you reassure them? PT: Even when an organisation gives a clear reason for their change, speculation will abound so it’s important that you address this and involve your clients and contacts in your journey. Let them share in the key milestones and of course invite them in to the new premises as soon as possible to celebrate the success of the move.
The contrast of working through your own issues at the stage of the curve you find yourself at, whilst helping others embarking on change can be very difficult if you are personally affected. Similarly, if you have reached acceptance but others are still struggling in denial or anger this can cause tensions in a team and potentially damage relationships.
Make sure that the move is seen a positive and sell the benefits of the change to your clients. Whether it’s a more accessible location, better collaborative working, more client space for meetings or more room for the firm to grow and take on more work all these reasons can be presented from the outset to give a logical rationale for the change.
This is when you hear managers saying things like ‘it’s just a change of address nothing else, get on with it’ or ‘it’s going to be so much better in the new place I can’t understand what people’s problems are’. It’s easy to forget in the eye of the storm that we might not have all received information at the same time, and so managers could be further along the change curve than the team they are leading.
Unless the emotional, psychological side of transition is addressed – for all of the ‘three C’s’, then I can guarantee there will be ‘people issues’ in the post…that is of course is you’ve remembered to change your address!
This is when you need to take the time out to check in with the team on how they are feeling about the change on a regular basis.
is the Head of Learning & Development at Hugh James.
Adding forthcoming changes to your team meeting agendas is a
ADAM NABOZNY Modern Law met with Adam Nabozny, Partnerships Director, National Accident Helpline (NAH) to understand how the 25-year old business has remained a market leader and to hear about its latest transformations in people, business models and brand. MLM: Tell us about yourself, your role and how NAH is looking in the current climate. AN: My role at NAH is to look after our relationships with partner law firms and those firms working with us under our ABS joint venture businesses, ensuring the relationships are working properly to everyone’s benefit. It’s important that we have an understanding of the end-to-end journey for a customer, from our process right into the legal process itself. It’s critical that we understand our partners, to support them properly (not just in terms of customers) so we offer a lot of consultancy support and share best practice where we can. Our relationships with partner firms have been central to our transformation – particularly in terms of gathering feedback, understanding customer service and where we can improve what we do as well as prioritising innovation and development. As a solicitor, I understand the work and how it impacts legal businesses. My experience supports in making these relationships as good as they can be. MLM: So you can see immediately where there might be room for growth and transformation to improve? AN: Absolutely. NAH has been a leading business within the sector for a few years now – we’ve just celebrated our 25th anniversary and have worked with numerous firms over the
“We’ve built our business on doing things the right way, and we won’t stop developing and helping our customers.”
“We couldn’t achieve anything without buy in from our people. The next stage in our transformation has focused on our people and the culture of the business.” 18
years; witnessing a number of ways of how law firms work and their changing needs – the trigger points for change. MLM: A business will undoubtedly change in 25 years. How has NAH transformed recently and why? AN: We’ve always been an ambitious business and became AIM listed in 2014, but we’ve always been keen to grow. We saw changes coming along in the personal injury market (with many more to come) and wanted to develop and adapt the business – ensuring our partner firms are supported and, importantly, that customers can access legal services when they need it. Our transformation since 2017 has been threefold. We relaunched our brand in June 2017 as part of our transformation towards cementing our position as a business with integrity. We moved away from our ‘The Underdog’ positioning (which worked well but it’s had its day) to something more aligned to how we help customers. Our brand positioning is now ‘When it’s wrong, make it right’. Through research, we learnt how much customers valued our approach to helping them get back to where they were before their accidents. Our new brand positioning allows us to step away from how personal injury brands are often perceived in the media (as ‘ambulance chasers’), towards a brand that harnesses our commitment to honesty and integrity. To help embed this, we spoke to customers that we helped, through
The National Accident Helpline team celebrate achieving the Investors in People Gold standard in 2018 our partner firms, focusing on real people and conversations with our Legal Support Centre, to help share their personal stories. We are also strongly committed to ethical marketing and have taken a stance against those practices that damage the industry’s reputation. The stories we now share in our marketing explain the value of our support and what our service means to our customers during a difficult and stressful time. The ones that resonate with me are those where, perhaps, they didn’t have the most serious injury, but the accident had greatly impacted on their life in other ways and NAH and our partner firms have made a real difference. These case studies are helping our brand to gain considerable traction. MLM: What else have you achieved? AN: We couldn’t achieve anything without buy in from our people. The next stage in our transformation has focused on our people and the culture of the business. We recently gained our Gold Investors in People standard - a significant achievement for the organisation. We spend a great deal of time interacting with our staff to ensure they understand where the business is going, their role in the development, and to ensure they are all engaged in our culture. We hold regular update sessions for staff to meet with, and ask questions of, our directors and senior management – so we can share what’s going on in the business and involve our people along the journey.
“The next, exciting stage of our development will be the launch of our wholly owned ABS, set to go live in April 2019. This will complement our existing strategy and ensure our customers remain fully supported in the post reform world.”
In terms of people, we also invest and innovate heavily to support the customer. When a customer comes through to us, they are sent straight to our Legal Support Centre, where our Advisors are tasked with helping customers through their case at the start of the process. We focus on supporting the customer at that point, to get as much information as possible and reassure them during a very stressful time, before they are matched with a partner law firm. It’s very important to us that we don’t simply throw the customer over to the law firm and our Legal Support Centre has benefitted from our recent focus and investments. We have also worked hard to increase ratings on TrustPilot - a fantastic, independent way for customers to review our work. [Editor: At the time of print, NAH is rated ‘excellent’ by its customers, holding an enviable 5 stars.] MLM: What’s been the last stage of NAH’s recent transformation? AN: A further phase of transition for us has been the launch of two ABS joint venture businesses. This was a significant change for us as a business and made in light of increasing changes within the PI market – from the impact of reform on access to justice to mass consolidation. Our ABSs are there to complement the work we do with our partner firms – with which we have excellent working relationships. Our ABSs, Your Law and National Law Partners, both went live
Geodesys. All you need to know. For over 20 years, Geodesys has provided a wide range of conveyancing searches and services to clients nationwide. The result? Indispensable peace of mind. Whether your transaction is local, regional or further afield, our unique and insightful service is available to you.
Over 20 years of conveyancing searches. For information call 0800 085 8050 or email email@example.com www.geodesys.com
Matthew Hector (Partnerships Manager), Ryan Toft (System Co-ordinator) and Kelly Affronti (Legal and Compliance Officer) pictured at the National Accident Helpline offices in Kettering, Northamptonshire in 2017 and give us an end to end view of the customer journey. We’re always looking for ways to improve our service and will continue to work closely with our partner firms and our panel which are a crucial part of our ongoing strategy. The next, exciting stage of our development will be the launch of our wholly owned ABS, set to go live in April 2019. This will complement our existing strategy and ensure our customers remain fully supported in the post reform world. Our ABS projects have been challenging but hugely positive - and it’s been going well so far! MLM: How is the market looking for NAH? What’s the greatest concern on your road map? AN: We see ourselves as a market leader but we’re acutely aware of the changes ahead to the personal injury market – especially the RTA reforms. The changes to RTA matters are significant for a number of organisations in the sector, including NAH. We’re keen to see that the reforms are implemented properly and we’re involved in discussions with industry stakeholders around achieving this. This is crucial as there is plenty of opportunity to get implementation wrong for customers who will need to navigate through a complicated and difficult process. It is essential that our customers have proper support and access to quality legal services in the post reform world. We are setting ourselves up to be an organisation which customers will go to when they have had a personal injury. We’ve built our business on doing things the right way, and we won’t stop developing and helping our customers. MLM: How important is new technology to the changing business? AN: We have always focused on what we can do well. IT and process efficiency are a big part of delivering that superior customer service – especially within our wholly owned ABS, launching in April. We’re looking at an exciting CRM system as part of that too which I’m looking forward to seeing in practice. Using data and research, we analyse in detail how customers interact with us – whether that’s using voice via mobile / online or on the phone.
“We couldn’t achieve anything without buy in from our people. The next stage in our transformation has focused on our people and the culture of the business.”
We don’t believe customers will demand an exclusively online experience or be managed entirely from smart phones. In the personal injury sector, human interaction is still essential and we will always offer a multitude of ways for customers to speak to us. It’s critical to us that our developments are all customer-led. We won’t cut off our phone lines just because AI is on the rise. AI is still in its early days and we want to be sure that any technology works for the customer first. MLM: What’s the most challenging element of transformation at NAH? AN: Each project has its own challenges but the big challenge for us is prioritising our ideas. As a business, we’re are ambitious and want to keep developing. We’ve always had a lot to do on our agenda and we all get excitable about change, but we have to choose the top three to four projects and do them well. I think that’s our greatest challenge – to make sure we have prioritised correctly and apply the right amount of time, resource and effort to execute our plans well. MLM: Any advice for others looking to transform / do things differently?
Now, more than any time, change is coming. Be bold about your vision and implement it!”
AN: Good question. My advice would be to take a step back. It’s so easy to get involved in the day-to-day so ensure you take a step back and identify what you need to do for your business. Embrace change and be as innovative as you can be at the time and, most importantly, ensure everyone is on board with change. Ensure buy-in from your people; it’s crucial. People are really the key to our transformation. We have spent a lot of time on our organisation’s values, which some people often just throw in as an afterthought. But we really do invest in this at NAH, from the CEO down. If everyone is on board helping to make your vision a reality, then you have half a chance of delivering it! Finally, be bold about your vision. In the legal sector there is a lot we can do and we can learn a lot from other sectors too. Now, more than any time, change is coming. Be bold about your vision and implement it!
HOW TO PROMOTE INNOVATION IN THE LEGAL SECTOR
SRA regulated providers also still have the highest level of agreement that regulation does constrain service development – 44% in 2018 compared to 53% in 2015 – when compared to other types of providers. So, there is still work to do here.
ob Cross, Legal Services Board, considers the findings of research undertaken in 2015 and looks at some of the barriers to innovation in the legal sector.
The sector and what the public wants from legal services is changing and it is important that legal services evolve. Innovation to make legal services more accessible, more effective and better value-for-money can help address the issue of unmet need and help improve access to justice. Innovation can benefit providers too, for example by providing efficiencies and cost reductions. All these things are in the public interest. No change in levels of service innovation since 2015 The survey shows that over the past three years 26% of legal service providers – both regulated and unregulated – have introduced new or improved services. Among these, around a third were new services enabled by technology, a third involved moving into a new area of law, and a third involved a wide range of different activities for example collaborating with others, cross selling different services, or providing services to new client groups. Despite these positives, levels of service innovation have not changed since 2015. The proportion of providers introducing new ways of delivering services or new ways of marketing services has fallen since then. While BEIS data shows that innovation across UK businesses has stalled over the same period, the lack of positive progress in legal services innovation does concern us. Why has there been slow progress? What is behind this apparent lack of improvement in legal services? There are a couple of factors that the data suggests we can rule out. The survey shows that there has been an increase in the proportion of service innovators citing the intensity of competition as having an influence on their decision to innovate. In 2015, 62% of service innovators believed this had been an influence, compared to 68% in 2018. There has also been a fall in those citing a lack of market opportunities for new services as a constraint – 39% in 2018 down from 44% in 2015, and an increase in the availability of new technology as providing opportunities for new services – 68% in 2018 up from 62% in 2015. In fact, the top five constraints cited in 2018 are a lack of expertise or capacity, regulation, market opportunities, legislation and a lack of finance. Even so, while regulation was the second most commonly cited constraint on developing new services, there has been a significant increase in providers believing regulation does not constrain service development - 58% in 2018, up from 48% in 2015. Providers regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have mainly driven this increase. However,
Culture Another area identified by the research is cultural challenges within the legal sector. There has been a fall in the proportion of providers who considered they have a culture that supports the introduction of new ideas (75% in 2018 down from 81% in 2015). As in 2015, only just over half as many have written strategies that support the introduction of new ideas. Fewer providers agree that team working is important in developing new services, and there is less agreement that cross-functional teams are important. This perception that cultural barriers are inhibiting the development of new services is reinforced by a large increase in the proportion of providers citing attitudinal barriers to change within their own business – 34% in 2018 up from 25% in 2015. Looking ahead From the LSB’s perspective, changes made by regulators over the past few years appear to have contributed to improvements in the environment that have enabled innovation. Some regulators are undertaking significant regulatory reforms, including by removing restrictions on how regulated providers can deliver services. Looking ahead our focus will be on: n Stimulating stronger consumer-led competition; n Encouraging regulators to remove unnecessary regulations while maintaining essential consumer protections; and n Developing regulatory approaches in response to technological developments. To access the research report and associated summaries please go to our research web pages: https://research. legalservicesboard.org.uk/
is the Research Manager at the Legal Services Board.
INNOVATION FOR INNOVATORS
ane Malcolm, SRA, presents the Authority’s latest findings on the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and technological transformation on the business of law We have talked before in the pages of Modern Law Magazine about the pace of change in the legal services market. Most of us have a sharp eye on developments in technology and how that is affecting us in both our working and personal lives. Law firms are no different. Last month, we published a paper on how artificial intelligence (AI) and other technological change might impact upon the business of law. Our paper is timely as we know that firms are already increasingly using technology to deliver better services to clients. What we found is that AI will increasingly free up solicitors from lower-level work to carry out more complex tasks. The indications are that developments will mostly be focused on back-office functions, allowing solicitors to add real value to a case or increase their capacity to engage with clients and potential clients. Using AI for legal services could also see firms reduce their costs as overheads for ‘virtual’ parts of a business are lower. Attitudes about using new technology will also change as it becomes more commonplace. Our paper also outlined the quality of legal work carried out by computers. While it is not 100 percent accurate in various tests, it is no less accurate than work carried out by people. In some
“Our award of a £700,000 grant from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Pioneer Fund will allow us to give more support for innovative ways to use technology in the workplace. We will be providing more details as soon as we can.” cases, it is more so. Notably, in one test it took real-life lawyers 92 minutes to complete a task while AI finished the job in 26 seconds. There is no doubt that new technology has already improved the way legal services work. The latest surveys show that 30 percent of legal work is now delivered online and the business use of emails has speeded up many tasks.
“There is no doubt that new technology has already improved the way legal services work. The latest surveys show that 30 percent of legal work is now delivered online.”
One major difference between AI and older computer technologies is that AI can learn and develop. Just as firms train, supervise and review the output of their trainees and other staff, so they should train, supervise and review the output of intelligent machines. As the report highlights the potential for technology to add further value in the workplace, we would urge all law firms to consider how technology can help you and your business. We are committed to doing what we can to help law firms develop new ways of working, while making sure clients are protected. We have dedicated pages on our website (sra.org.uk/ innovate) providing guidance and information for those that want to do things differently. Part of that is our safe space where firms can work with us as they explore and test ideas. Our award of a £700,000 grant from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Pioneer Fund will allow us to give more support for innovative ways to use technology in the workplace. We will be providing more details as soon as we can. So the message is clear – the world is changing and the sector is changing with it. Law firms are leading that change and we want to help, not hinder. We are looking forward to working with you.
is the Executive Director, External and Corporate Affairs at the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Voice recorders Speech recognition Dictation workflow systems Smartphone dictation Cloud dictation
A trusted brand with 60 years heritage in the voice technology market providing the entire speech-to-text value chain.
Digital Pocket Memo 8000
SpeechAir Work anywhere, anytime with the SpeechAir smart voice recorder. Integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LAN, USB, barcode scanner and camera.
Maximum data security. Recordings are encrypted in real-time using AES Standard. Central configuration and management for firmware updates.
Speech recognition - SpeechExec Pro 10
SpeechMike Premium Ideal microphone for speech recognition. Compatible with Windows and MAC. Suitable for virtual environments Citrix, VMware and Hyper-V.
Virtualized environment - SpeechExec Enterprise
• Links lawyers and assistants by automating the dictation workflow management. • Converts voice into text; predefined templates allow documents to be automatically created in the right format.
• Powerful enterprise dictation solution ideal for firms with several offices and a medium to large user base, working on-site or remotely. • Central administration and fully customizable for virtualized environments. Supports Citrix, Windows Terminal Services and VMware.
SpeechLive - mobile dictation solution • Record on your smartphone or on a digital recorder and send your voice files to SpeechLive web-portal for transcription. • Choose your transcription method - your assistant, speech recognition engine or Philips transcription services, and receive your final document. • GDPR compliant web-based dictation and document creation solution. • End-to-end double encryption for maximum data security.
Would you like a free trial of any of our products? Call us on 01206 755 755 or visit www.philips.com/dictation
MAKING LAWTECH WORK FOR THE LEGAL SECTOR Christina Blacklaws, President of The Law Society of England and Wales, addresses the work of the LawTech Delivery Panel and how its taskforces are set to support UK lawyers to overcome the challenges of embracing, accessing and implementing lawtech to transform legal services and their business.
here could be 20% fewer jobs in the legal sector by 2038 because of automation according to Law Society research from 2017 though this would be largely offset by growth in demand for legal services. Despite the potentially dramatic impact of technology on legal services, as a sector we have not always front-footed the issues. Adoption of fintech is far more advanced than lawtech but there are lessons we can learn from the issues they faced. There are significant ethical challenges posed by the use of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) in our justice system. These are being considered in detail by the Law Society’s technology and law policy commission on algorithms in the justice system. But beyond ethics, we also need to find the right balance between regulation and innovation and we need to ensure we maintain our competitiveness as a jurisdiction of choice for commercial dispute resolution. We need to develop legal professionals with the skills to take advantage of these innovations and we need to be sure the financial support exists to make the UK an attractive place to do business for lawtech startups.
“The overriding objective of the government-backed, industryled panel is to promote the growth of the UK’s lawtech sector and boost its contribution to the UK economy.”
In July 2018, Justice Secretary David Gauke launched the LawTech Delivery Panel to tackle these issues. The overriding objective of the governmentbacked, industry-led panel is to promote the growth of the UK’s lawtech sector and boost its contribution to the UK economy. Panel members have diverse backgrounds, with members of government, the judiciary, academia and the legal sector all represented. The panel has created six taskforces focusing on different areas where we can produce tangible change. Our UK jurisdiction taskforce is focused on developing ways to demonstrate that English law and UK jurisdiction provide a state-of-the-art foundation for the development of smart contracts, digital ledger technology, artificial intelligence and associated technologies. The regulation taskforce is considering options for an optimal regulatory environment that can best enable innovation and efficiencies in lawtech, as well as enhance the value proposition of UK-based legal services and UK jurisdictions. The investment taskforce has prioritised increasing access to funding for lawtech in the UK. With our education taskforce, we are considering options for an education ecosystem that will help today’s and tomorrow’s legal advisors utilise lawtech and enable innovation, recognising this requires developing a broad and holistic approach to legal training. The commercial dispute resolution taskforce is prioritising the identification of technologies that are most likely to maintain and enhance the UK’s position
“We want to understand the obstacles that may be preventing greater uptake of technology in the legal sector and the challenges faced by lawtech businesses and innovators.” as a leading centre for the resolution of commercial disputes; encouraging the widespread development and use of these technologies in the UK; and promoting the UK’s technological capability on the international stage. Finally, our ethics taskforce is focused on ensuring that the ethics and regulatory frameworks around lawtech, data ethics and AI provide both clarity and certainty for developers and users of lawtech. As part of our work we are committed to stakeholder engagement. We want to understand the obstacles that may be preventing greater uptake of technology in the legal sector and the challenges faced by lawtech businesses and innovators. Later this year we will be making recommendations to government on what actions can be taken now, and in the long-term, to ensure the UK is the best place in the world for lawtech firms to do business.
is the President of the Law Society of England and Wales. She chairs the LawTech Delivery Panel.
YOUR WORKLOAD Take off time. Lots of time. Slash the time it takes to do post-completion tasks to just five minutes, thanks to supercharged InfoTrack technology that pre-populates data fields and submits and manages results for SDLTs and AP1s. It’s intuitive. It’s easy to use. And your workload? You’ll charge through it.
Faster and Smarter
is VP Global Commercial Operations at DocsCorp.
is a Senior Ombudsman at the LeO.
Track Changes can make all the difference
Mariette Hughes provides some useful tips from the Legal Ombudsman.
One small change can make you work smart every day
In 2016 the Competition and Markets Authority published a report on the legal services market. It concluded that more needed to be done so consumers were confident to engage with the market. Regulators were asked to address standards of transparency so consumers could understand the cost of services and compare providers, and understand what redress is available to them.
Many users of document comparison software have been conditioned to use redline mark-ups because they believe them to be more accurate than Track Changes. However, this isn’t so. A redline is a static report showing what has changed between versions – but to apply those changes, you need to go back to the original document and apply them manually.
Fast forward two years and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) have introduced their transparency measures that require firms (working in certain areas of law) to publish upfront information on their website about the cost of their service and complaints procedures.
Here are three simple ways to improve critical collaborative workflows by using Track Changes: 1. Collaborate on & review documents 25% faster Independent testing has shown users review changes in a Track Changes document 25% faster than with a traditional redline report. With constant pressure on businesses to prove and maintain ROI, a 25% productivity gain is hard to ignore.
How will this be taken into account when we investigate complaints? There are a few points to consider: • When we investigate complaints we make a decision based on what is reasonable in all the circumstances of the case. Therefore the price information you provide on your website is part of the circumstances, and can be taken into account.
Plus, marking up a comparison report with Track Changes is a better way to work with a document comparison solution. Comparison reports marked up with Track Changes become the next working version of a document – users can accept or reject changes as they go.
• Keep a record of the price information on your website and when information changes. This will help when responding to older complaints.
2. Work the same as your clients Some document comparison applications display their reports in a proprietary review application, so users need to export them before they can share them with others. Using an application that produces a Word document straight away can make the review process three to five times faster.
• Make sure you tell consumers if the cost of their work is going to be different to the advertised price. We know that the information on your website will be based on a typical transaction. So it is important to make it clear what the cost is, and why it is different to the online price. This is also an opportunity for you to consider how you share costs information throughout the transaction. Complying with your regulatory requirements at the start doesn’t replace the need to provide clear costs information throughout a matter, as part of the service you are providing.
Marking up with Track Changes also lets you work the same your clients do. Clients usually request amended documents be marked up with Track Changes as it is familiar. Provide a better and more collaborative experience by switching from redline to Track Changes to accommodate your clients’ work habits.
Costs account for a large number of the complaints we see. One of the common complaints is that costs were more than expected. This becomes especially relevant when considering the new requirement to provide up front pricing information.
3. Improve accuracy in document review Businesses should rely on their document comparison solution to find every change – in body text, tables, formatting or wherever else is important – and report back in an easy-to-understand, collaborative way. If time is wasted fixing broken formatting or doing a second check manually, then the ROI of the application is being negatively affected.
We understand that if circumstances change, costs may increase. The fact that a final bill is more than was originally estimated does not necessarily mean you have provided a poor service. However, as part of a reasonable service we would expect the customer to have received the best possible cost information at all stages – this means letting people know as soon as possible if an estimate will be exceeded, or if circumstances change. Our updated costs guidance will be available in the New Year with more information.
Outputting comparison reports with Track Changes takes the process beyond reporting and lets users work more efficiently. It minimises the chance of error and helps give bill-by-the-hour businesses a competitive edge. What difference could it make to you?
“We understand that if circumstances change, costs may increase…as part of a reasonable service we would expect the customer to have received the best possible cost information at all stages.”
“Marking up with Track Changes also lets you work the same your clients do. Clients usually request amended documents be marked up with Track Changes as it is familiar.” 27
GA S/School advert.indd 1
is the Head of Marketing at InfoTrack UK.
is the Development Director at SIFA.
You said it: Your thoughts on legal tech
Collaborate to Transform How to you become the legal enterprise you need to be to enable transformation to meet the needs of modern legal clients – today and tomorrow? Dave Seager, SIFA, reports.
Adam Bullion summarises InfoTrack UK’s latest research into legal professionals’ attitudes towards technology.
It seems that with the impending new SRA handbook, the new SRA Digital Badge and the compulsory publication of prices in key areas of legal services, 2019 is the year to transform. For solicitors aiming to differentiate themselves in a world where consumers want to compare before they buy, the modern legal firm needs to be able to demonstrate client focus, not pay lip service to it.
Recently we surveyed nearly 200 legal professionals to understand attitudes towards technology in the profession, asking them to share their views on implementing and sourcing new systems that help with their working day. Of the respondents, 46% believed they were not technically savvy or comfortable enough with new tech to lead on their implementation, and 39% said they were concerned about change management, and about the new technology potentially having a negative impact on their day-to-day jobs.
The most obvious place to start is the company website, where the consumers’ research begins and where first impressions are critical. I would be looking to see as much detail as possible on each service, examples of the range of costs based on recent case study and definitely full biographies with pictures of the key staff who will deliver the service - including their relevant qualifications, accreditations and experience. The Law Society has issued some very helpful guidance on this.
I believe the reason that solicitors feel like this is clear. In the past, firms have been let down when it comes to the promise of new and better technology, so it is easy to understand why they are hesitant to implement new tools that could radically change the way they work. The challenge for firms is that they need to look to the future to remain relevant, by ensuring they have ways of placing additional value into their business and for clients and their staff, using technology solutions.
In my world, in which I encourage the closer collaboration of legal and financial services, I am certainly seeing transformation. Solicitors, long wary of financial planning professionals, are increasingly encouraged by their own regulator and embracing partnerships. As I always say when presenting to both legal and financial audiences: clients do not think in silos, so don’t offer them solutions in silos. Clients are seeking the trusted adviser but often, it should and will be trusted advisers working closely together for the client’s benefit.
Despite being nervous, the research indicated there is still an appetite for the adoption of technology in legal firms, with 34% saying they believe firms should be exploring and trialling new tech constantly in order to be effective and efficient, and that 52% had already implemented new systems in the last six months, signifying increasingly proactive adoption. The results also demonstrate that firms implementing new tech have benefited, with the vast majority stating they were happy with their new tools. Furthermore, of those who had implemented new tech, 83% said they had found these new tools useful, with the benefits becoming increasingly clear, despite any initial hesitation. I see this as an encouraging sign for those firms that are nervous to close the digital divide, and it shows that firms are now understanding the importance of first mover advantage that can be gained from the right technology.
The firm that truly wishes to transform in 2019 will be the one that is prepared to embrace the new regulatory regime and the changes in client behaviour. Clients expect holistic so embrace close relations with fellow professionals on whom you have conducted proper due diligence. If you do not and others do, you will be the legal business to lose out…however good you may be in your own silo.
With growing consumer expectations and staff demanding smarter ways to work for improved work life balance, the firms that are first to put their best tech foot forward will come out on top. However, undoubtedly, firms need to ensure they are selecting the technology that delivers across more of their needs rather than lots of different tech that allows them to better manage suppliers, reconciliation of costs and documents.
Competition leads to innovation but equally, the innovators gain competitive advantage.
“Solicitors, long wary of financial planning professionals, are increasingly encouraged by their own regulator and embracing partnerships.”
“Firms are now understanding the importance of first mover advantage that can be gained from the right technology.” 29
Silverman Advisory is the specialist management consultancy for the legal industry To find out how we can help your firm achieve greater success visit
or call on
0207 846 0031
Silverman A5 Advert Landscape.indd 1
Managing Director, Blue Car Technologies Limited.
is the Marketing Manager at Geodesys - part of the Anglian Water Group.
Clear Agile innovation transformation? What do firms need to plan for and implement when approaching a transformation or project for change? Colin Fowle, Blue Car Technologies Limited, reports.
Clarity of pricing is a huge transformation for firms this year – how ‘transformational’ will this be for consumer? How can firms leverage this clarity to meet the needs of modern legal consumers? Susan Fairbrass, Geodesys, reports.
In an increasingly competitive City awash with anxiety about Brexit and a global economic downturn, the number of law firm mergers has increased exponentially over the past few years.
The recent regulation around pricing transparency imposed by the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) is a crucial and welcome change in the way the legal community functions and communicates.
In the past 10 years, more than half of the firms featured in Chambers Student have either gone bust, undergone a merger or been in talks about a merger. In May 2017 Nabarro, CMS and Olswang finalised the largest merger ever to create CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP.
Although there is an understandable degree of uncertainty and concern within the industry, increased transparency is key in order for the legal sector to be able to address the expectations of modern consumers.
The success of these mergers is dependent on many factors, but the compatibility of the firms’ cultures is critical to success. It is often overlooked but in many ways the implementation of technology plays a crucial role in the forging of a company’s culture.
A recent survey has shown that nearly 40% of consumers would switch to a brand that is more transparent and a staggering 73% would be willing to spend more on a product that offers complete transparency1. The new SRA rules present a great opportunity for both consumers and companies, transforming and improving the way in which the two interact.
Firstly, has the firm tried to move its IT infrastructure onto ‘the cloud’ and promote flexible working practices like working from home? In research conducted earlier this year 75% of Millennials wanted a job that offered flexible working hours. Such flexibility allows employees to work around family commitments, improves their morale and overall is critical to promoting diversity at all levels of the firm.
More specifically, law firms now need to ensure pricing information is made clear in all of their communication, whether that’s their website or offline marketing materials. They also need to include what the costs do or do not include, clarify their complaints handling process and provide quotes without asking for customer data. By making these tweaks to their websites and materials and having all of these details readily available, law firms will be able anticipate client questions and set expectations, ultimately offering a better, more complete experience.
Secondly, technology is very important for fostering teamwork throughout the firm. Too often legal teams are segregated into their sectors, sometimes with little interaction between themselves. Technology can break down these barriers and create a sense of greater cohesion, whether this be through company-wide gamification or reinforcing the company’s values and ethos into each department.
Taking a wider view, the new transparency regulations also present an opportunity for law firms to showcase the talent within their teams and differentiate themselves from the competition. Clients will be able to see the experience and expertise of those handling the services they are looking for, further demonstrating the value they will be getting for their money.
In addition, mergers could present law firms with challenges in trying to seamlessly integrate between legacy systems and new applications; different business processes and infrastructures between the acquiring and the acquired company.
Increased transparency is a welcome transformation to the relationship between law firms and consumers. Keeping an open mind to these changes will result in a win-win for both company and client.
A potential panacea is to embrace the era of agile development practices, partner with a legal technology specialist to provide tailored integration as well as middleware solutions to facilitate the transformation needed to truly connect data, services, people and businesses.
“The new transparency regulations also present an opportunity for law firms to showcase the talent within their teams and differentiate themselves from the competition.” 1
“Technology can break down these barriers and create a sense of greater cohesion, whether this be through company-wide gamification or reinforcing the company’s values and ethos…”
GET READY FOR PRICE TRANSPARENCY
Perfect Portal provides a quote to completion solution that can be implemented within 24-48 hrs. 59% of home movers obtain two or more quotes when selecting a conveyancer. Converting the quote to sale can be faster when you can offer full transparency of price and service at the selection stage. Perfect Portal is a market leading, easy to use, online platform that enables firms to quote, convert, manage and communicate throughout the transaction. Why not find out more?
Provide transparency and win more business www.perfectportal.co.uk/transparency 0845 556 0077
Operations Manager, VFS Legal Funding.
is the Joint Managing Director, Silverman Advisory.
Delivering Transformation & Change
Bots – ready or not, here they come 2019 is the year when talk of AI revolutionising business will doubtless reach fever pitch. So far its adoption has not been widely seen within the legal sector. Yet one area where it’s expected to take hold more quickly is as a Bot application; a means by which to provide advice and documents over the Internet without the need for human intervention.
Solid cash flow is the foundation on which to build change, as Mark Richardson, VFS Legal Funding, explains. Many law firms are prioritising transformation as a key objective for the New Year. It’s not surprising - we have never seen such a significant period of change for the legal profession.
Already used by some companies to support customer service management, for lawyers this technology has the opportunity to be a first line income generator as well as a tool for helping to manage clients - and increasing fee earners’ productivity.
Legal IT expert Richard Susskind says the global legal profession is on the brink of ‘unprecedented upheaval’. Innovations such as artificial intelligence and the automation of certain legal tasks, cloud-based technology and the growth of alternative legal service delivery models means law firms have no choice but to consider how they are going to deliver transformation – for their clients and for their lawyers.
Just imagine the impact of having fee earners having the ability to immediately engage with a prospective client when they find your website, and being able to obtain meaningful guidance or generate a document without the client waiting for a ring back or email in response. Consider what can be gained by being able to immediately answer specific enquiries online at the time of initial contact, whatever the time of day or night. Engaging with a prospective client who has the additional opportunity to serve themselves is a sure-fire tool to helping secure that client as a long term client, for more complex and profitable matters when they recognise that your business is open for business, 24/7.
However, change costs money and the first thing you need before considering any of these innovations is a solid cash flow. We are seeing law firms struggle though, as the average waiting time between billing and payment is 122 days and this period extends by another day or two each year (research by Smith & Williamson). As it takes longer than ever for law firms to get paid, it can be very difficult to plan for future investments, especially one which may require a significant initial outlay, like a new artificial intelligence system.
This may sound like anathema to seasoned practitioners but recent research revealed that most online searches on such topics as matrimonial and family matters are carried out at 1 am. It’s effective to capture the client there and then, preventing them from jumping to a competitor. Why not employ technology to maximise the return on your digital investment?
Some firms struggle with cash flow issues more than others. Litigation firms for example, especially those dealing with personal injury cases, often have to wait a long time between billing and payment and this can mean their cashflow is uneven and hard to predict as a result.
Let’s not overlook the constantly improving remit of technology which adopting now will keep you ahead of the race in the future. The technology behind Siri and Alexa is now being harnessed to create legal bots capable of interviewing clients and creating personalised documents and contracts.
A simple way for law firms to implement real change is to transform their finances by familiarising themselves with facilities which help create a more stable cashflow. Cash advance facilities release cash tied up in a bill, meaning law firms have more financial flexibility to plan for the future and invest in transformative solutions to remain competitive in this changing market. There is no denying that a solid cash flow is the foundation on which to build change. Looking into appropriate financial support should be the first resolution any firm undertakes before embarking on a path to transformation.
What is particularly interesting is that this is fast becoming an inexpensive and uncomplicated process for lawyers without any particular IT skills who can download software for their own firms and utilise across a wide area of practice. Barriers to implementing bots are dropping and demand is inevitably increasing – is your firm bot ready?
“For lawyers this technology has the opportunity to be a first line income generator as well as a tool for helping to manage clients.”
“Change costs money and the first thing you need before considering any of these innovations is a solid cash flow.” 33
is a Professor in Law and Psychology at Birmingham City University
is the Commercial Director,
Transforming your firm into a ‘Resilient’ one
The Discount Rate transformation Mark Holt, Frenkel Topping, gives his predictions for the new Ogden Discount Rate
How can you create a working environment and culture that attracts ‘transformational’ lawyers and leaders, who have a vision and ability to deliver change? Dr Hugh Koch explains.
A new Ogden Discount Rate is on the horizon, as the Civil Liability Bill recently received Royal Assent to become the Civil Liability Act 2018. Once the new rate is set, the insurance industry will be able to breathe a sigh of relief.
It does not have to be hard. The current (or future) leaders at the top of your firm need to embrace three contexts in which to develop ‘Resilience’ – personal, managerial and organisational.
The Bill passed through the House of Lords in November, and its granting of Royal Assent will put an end to the hiatus that left many injured people in limbo – however, it remains to be seen what the new discount rate will be set at.
Personal Resilience, in general, is having flexible strength of mind to face up to and overcome everyday challenges – the more threatening or big the challenge appears to you, the more you need to be resilient. As Derek Mowbray, an expert in organisational leadership, says ‘Resilience is a choice’ (mas.org.uk) – every time you come across a challenging event or difficult situation, you can decide to be actively resilient or not. Resilience and robust behaviour requires an open mind and mental strength and feeling you are ‘in control’ of yourself.
Following its unprecedented cut from 2.5% to -0.75% in 2017, I predict the new rate will be between 0.75% and 1.25%. There is now a 90-day period in which the Lord Chancellor must commence a review, which is completed over a further 140 days. Resultantly, the best-case scenario for when the new rate will come into effect is Q3, meaning compensation payments will continue to be impacted.
Managerial Resilience will help legal managers prevent their staff from experiencing excessive stress – managers can create and sustain a healthy working environment that helps lawyers work hard and feel good. Few managers have training in management, or in particular, resilience – but you can set the tone, climate and the expectations for your colleagues helped by positive appraisal and effective faceto-face communication. A great manager/lawyer is someone who makes the law firm a great place to work, starting with their smile and welcoming comment when you/they arrive in the morning.
Once the new rate is set it will bring clarity; currently, things remain uncertain despite the Bill being granted Royal Assent. If litigators have got a trial set for August next year, they are left in a real ‘no man’s land’. What we have at the moment is a negative multiplier; and if my predictions are correct, it will return to being a positive discount rate. There is no doubt that there will be a significant decrease in the total damages paid out by compensators.
Whether an individual lawyer or a manager of other lawyers, it is essential that in your firm there is a culture of psychological or social (group/team) wellbeing. This needs to be explicitly acknowledged by the head of the firm, and by all your managers, and ultimately all your colleagues. You all have a psychological responsibility for safeguarding and promoting wellbeing at work.
The Ogden Discount Rate calculates the size of the damages in a personal injury claim. It is an assumption on the return that can be expected on monies invested. The Civil Liability Bill hiatus left injured people in limbo as insurers slowed down cases, awaiting the outcome of the discussion.
By being happy, positive and trustworthy you will establish mutually positive expectations. This will allow you to learn from failures, small or large, and encourage others to do so too.
The MOJ issued a call for further evidence to gain additional insight into the structure of investment portfolios for recipients, plus a clear understanding of associated fees and charges. The call for evidence closes end of January.
Do you want a quick fix to Resilience?* Express your gratitude to others who do things, any things, for you – this goes for a smile, a hello, a ‘thank you’, a task completed.
Whatever happens, it’s crucial for our clients that the new Ogden Discount Rate be set swiftly to avoid further delays in them being able to rebuild their lives.
Showing gratitude is key to transformation towards greater resilience in any firm. Express passion and enthusiasm with encouraging words and gestures – this helps strengthen commitment, teamwork and enjoyment.
“There is no doubt that there will be a significant decrease in the total damages paid out by compensators.”
“Showing gratitude is key to transformation towards greater resilience in any firm.” 35
At HK Associates we provide a comprehensive and independent psychological and orthopaedic reportng service throughout the UK as well as access to a psychological treatment service. Services are provided within the context of personal injury, employment injury, stress and chronic absence management, clinical negligence, Neuropsychology and chronic pain. We have particular expertise in assessing the psychological effects of cosmetic surgery. Adults and children are seen within four to six weeks of instruction at any of our 167 clinics across the UK and the report provided within two weeks. The ‘Find and Expert’ facility on our website allows three experts to be located immediately.
GROUND FLOOR, FESTIVAL HOUSE, JESSOP AVENUE, CHELTENHAM GL50 3SH Phone: 01242 263715 email: enquiries @hughkochassociates.co.uk Web: www.hughkochassociates.co.uk
Intelligent Legal Research Cases from 1163 | Legislation from 1235
“One of the few technological developments that genuinely succeed in making a lawyer’s life easier.” Barrister and QC, 11KBW, London
Content from the courts of Australia, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Dominica, EU, England & Wales, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, Jersey, Montserrat, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Singapore, St. Christopher & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos and United Kingdom
Try free for 30 days when you quote ‘Modern Law’ | www.justis.com/freetrial
is Managing Director of JMC Legal Recruitment.
is a Senior Consultant and
Costs Lawyer, at Burcher Jennings.
Point of difference
Plan, plan, plan ahead
How ‘transformational’ will price transparency be for consumers this year? Law firm pricing is now crucial to practice management, underlined by the introduction of the SRA’s transparency pricing rules put into effect in time for Christmas 2018.
Organisational transformation in law firms is hard work but planning will help, as Jason Connolly, JMC Legal Recruitment, explains.
Shopping around for the best price, using comparison websites or comparing products online is now second nature. Will this approach benefit consumers? Publishing a price only works in straightforward, commoditised matters. Anything else requires detailed explanation, qualifying the price. The SRA requirements are I think, more sophisticated than the unsophisticated consumer these rules are meant to serve.
I do feel that when it comes to overhauling departments and businesses, often there is bad organisational health when it comes to the overall ground-level moral. Change is an important part of business life, the ability to adapt, whether it is a proactive or reactive change. Examples of reactive might be a new law introduced where you must adapt or a change
Publishing prices drives competition on price, which can only result in a race for the bottom. Only consumers will win, yet may receive a second-class service to accommodate the competitive squeeze on pricing.
The most common form of change we see is law firm mergers. When two law firms become one, this is often the most challenging time of both business’s history. Merging IT, systems, staff and even offices, presents a change throughout every aspect of the business. Often there will be fallout regarding staff leaving, by choice and redundancy.
Many firms have sought guidance from me on complying with the pricing transparency rules, enabling them to achieve consumer clarity, while still providing the right price for the job. The keystone of Burcher Jenning’s pricing training is clients receive a bespoke price for every matter. Every client and matter is different and we do our clients a disservice by attempting to pigeon hole these simply to satisfy regulatory requirements.
So how do you plan for staffing changes? Is your approach a reactive one where things may seem more chaotic or are you someone who has a clear strategy in place? Planning for recruitment in line with your business plan is key. This should also include things like culture, if you appeal to candidates who like the close-knit feel of a small to the medium-sized firm, then, as you grow, how you will keep or adapt this culture accordingly?
When we go online to choose a new food mixer we think about what size motor it has, how easy it will be to clean and how many extra attachments it has. When a client wants to buy their new home, the biggest purchase of their life, simply knowing what a basic house purchase with disbursements costs or what charges typically are, hardly says much about the product being purchased.
Losing staff is a costly business. With the cost of the initial recruitment fee, training, systems in place and - given the fact that most lawyers will not start billing until they have undergone the bedding in period - ensuring staff are happy during a period of change is essential.
The challenge for law firms will be promoting their individuality, their unique selling point, to achieve differentiation. This requires careful evaluation of their place in the market and aligning this with sound pricing and project management skills.
One hundred years ago, most people in the world worked on farms. Now, what does this have to do with change? As technology advances at an accelerated pace each year, and the use of AI being more widely spoken about in the media and business world, technology can be embraced to ensure businesses are more efficient. Keeping ahead of the curve is essential in the cut throat world of legal services.
This brings to mind my own experience recently when purchasing a new laptop, I visited a national computer retailer and received vague and contradictory advice on the best product for me, with the offer of an extended warranty at an extra cost. I then visited a national department store, well known for its customer service. Its computer department gave me knowledgeable advice, assisting me in making the right choice, which included a free two-year warranty. The same product was available at both stores, at the same price, yet my customer experience was vastly different. Pricing transparency online did not convey this. Importantly, the branding and corporate image proved that my customer service expectations were correctly managed!
Are you the type of person to throw your arms open embrace change, or would rather shy away and stick to what you know? I feel planning for the future and adapting to the market around you is essential not to get left behind. Keep an eye on the competition and do not allow yourself to get trapped in your bubble, oblivious to the world around you. This is a position that, I think, can happen all too often if business owners don’t set aside the time to plan.
“The challenge for law firms will be promoting their individuality...This requires careful evaluation of their place in the market and aligning this with sound pricing and project management skills.”
“Keep an eye on the competition and do not allow yourself to get trapped in your bubble, oblivious to the world around you.” 37
Enjoy the gift of peace of mind this holiday season The holidays can be bad for cash flow, but thereâ€™s cash to be unwrapped in your PI cases... Our cost advance facility:
â€˜Tis the season to improve your cashflow!
Releases up to 80% of the net bill Increases your profitability into the New Year Is risk free; quick and simple Provides compliant business funding
For a no obligation discussion please call 020 3747 9333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit vfslegal.com
is the Director of Consulting Services, EMEA at Wilson Legal Solutions.
is the Global CEO at
Achieving Lasting Transformation
Be transparent; win more business
Lindsay Barthram, Wilson Legal Solutions, discusses four essential elements to achieve lasting transformation.
Yvonne Hirons, Perfect Portal raises the all-important matter of managing expectations when it comes to price transparency – to ensure firms maintain a high quality service and an excellent reputation to help them avoid a race to the bottom.
Law firms today are facing a great deal of change. The pressure is on to stay current with ever-changing technology, meet escalating client demands, and operate with tighter margins. Keeping pace requires a firm-wide commitment to ongoing transformation and innovation. How can your firm cultivate this vision and ensure it is long lasting? Here are four essential elements to achieve success:
A few years ago, our bathroom was renovated by a builder. I chose to use them after being provided a quote of £2,500 to get the project completed. The final bill came in at almost £3,800. Upon challenging his final invoice, he retorted with a short sniff and said ‘ah, yes, that was just an estimate’.
1. Identify strong leaders To establish a culture for transformation, your firm must establish a clear vision and a clear statement of direction. People must understand why the business needs to change and how the organisation will benefit. Moreover, for transformational change to succeed, your people need to know how they will personally benefit by supporting the change and adopting the new culture and mindset. There must be leadership amongst the management group that can drive the vision forward with energy. This involvement is critical to inspire your people while allaying fears of the unknown and enabling a shift to a new reality.
Considering this, I now have measured expectations of costs supplied to me by tradespeople. Despite a good job I was annoyed the work cost me more than I expected, not anticipating the final invoice would be so far from the initial quote. I felt somewhat deceived and the relationship with the builder was tarnished, simply because my expectations were not managed throughout the process. I learnt a valuable lesson from this experience about transparency of costs. So, when the SRA talk about the need for ‘transparency’ as the outcome of its research, I fear interpretation has led to believing this means whatever you place in the initial quote and publishing all prices. However, it is my opinion that some evidence can be misconstrued. With so much research focused on findings from quantitative data, the importance of qualitative data is lost, giving a misguided interpretation of the conclusions.
2. Solicit input from across the firm Transformation and change personally impact people. To break the resistance to change, people must be included right from the outset. Include employees in the process and design of the systems that will enable your transformation. Getting input into what ‘good’ looks like, empowering people to make decisions, enabling them to validate the impact – these efforts will help drive your vision forward and support the on-going development of the cultural changes required to take the transformation past go live and long into the future.
Here’s what I believe transparency is and what your clients are looking for. According to a recent, Home Moving in the age of the 1 Consumer study, clients’ expectations have changed whilst the meaning of service has evolved. Over 55% of home movers highlighted their frustration with the method and lack of communication from their conveyancer. Clients’ preference in receiving online communication is growing fast, compared with the use of traditional face-to-face and phone call methods. In fact, 79% prefer to receive updates about their transactions via online methods, such as emails, online portals or instant messaging. This demonstrates clients’ real perception of transparency but more so, how law firms should be thinking.
3. Assess skills & augment through training Large-scale transformation doesn’t occur every day. One of the keys to the success of any transformation programme is to ensure your team is prepared for what lies ahead. You’ll need to make sure your change management team and change ambassadors have the skill set needed for each stage of transformation – from planning through implementation and deployment. If key people don’t have the needed skills, then invest in training on how to drive change and deal with the challenges it brings.
Ultimately, law firms need to consider a transparent service throughout and not just on receipt of the initial quote and the final invoice. Transparency is not just about publishing what you charge but managing client expectations. In terms of my building situation, my relationship with the builder would have been much improved had I received an understanding of costs at the beginning, middle and end of the process. Conveyancing is no different, so my advice is to consider how you can continuously communicate the value of your conveyancing service.
4. Commit to continuous improvement Not all ideas will work and not all transformation is perfect. To keep momentum there must be a process for feedback and improvement. People are more likely to stay the course if they can flag issues and see them resolved and improved quickly.
“One of the keys to the success of any transformation programme is to ensure your team is prepared for what lies ahead.”
“Ultimately, law firms need to consider a transparent service throughout and not just on receipt of the initial quote and the final invoice.” 1
ITS WISE TO STAY ALERT! SANCTION & PEP DAILY MONITORING
How often do you check for new sanctions & PEPâ€™s? Over 1,100 worldwide watch lists changing daily! We provide Daily Monitoring on all of your customers, email alert any new match status, automate most of your Enhanced Due Diligence cases and this is all included in your basic AML cost. With over 1,100 worldwide Sanction & PEP watch lists changing all the time, Daily Monitoring is the only practical solution.
Call us now to book a free demonstration on:
0113 333 9835 Or visit us online:
SMARTSEARCHUK.COM SmartSearch delivers UK and International Business checks in the UK and International Markets with inclusive Worldwide Sanction & PEP screening, Daily Monitoring, Email Alerts and Automated Enhanced Due Diligence.
Dr Matthew Terrell
is the Business Development Executive at Unoccupied Direct.
is Head of Marketing at Justis.
Huddle up to transform
Beyond the hype Now the ‘AI hype’ is fading, do firms understand how it can be harnessed to transform the delivery of legal services, make their business more efficient and of greater value to consumers and is there evidence of it happening? Dr Matthew Terrell, Justis, reports.
How can firms huddle up to the next generation of legal consumer to make clear, effective and relevant service and delivery transformations? What would they discover if they did? Wayne Shinn, Unoccupied Direct, reports.
Legal technology has received a lot of attention recently, spawning speculation and intrigue about how this will change the industry, how jobs will be affected, and if the new advances are a step forward or simply media hype.
Converting to new systems or bringing processes in line with more modern ways of doing things, can feel almost as arduous as the problems that old systems present. However, companies working within the legal sector owe it to consumers to provide the most clear, effective and relevant service possible. Transforming the delivery of services is often the way to improve this into the future.
Those of us who attend legal technology events such as Legal Geek, Future Lawyers Summit or localised LegalTech meet-ups, will increasingly understand the impact of AI on existing practices and services. For those who have yet embrace the legal technology community, I would highly recommend attending. Beyond the friendliness of the community and exposure to innovative technology, you will find the evidence to understand how AI can apply to your firm and practice area.
As an example, when launching our bespoke Unoccupied Property Insurance (for when a homeowner goes into a care home, moves back in with family members or during probate/estate administration), we tailored our services perfectly for use by those within the legal sector - such as solicitors or executors.
Why do I need to attend an event to understand the benefits of AI? Firstly, many start-ups and established companies will work within a law firm to implement their AI solutions, and subsequently invest time in demonstrating the value directly to that firm. Firms that save time and money through their new solutions will no doubt choose to report their findings to the partners and not the public, for now.
One example of how we’ve created a more streamlined and efficient service, compared to other unoccupied property insurers working within wills and probate, is to reduce the relevant questions about the property going onto cover to just four, easing the process. This is because we recognise it can be tricky to find all the information about a property, especially when you’re not the homeowner. Although this is quite an uncommon approach within the insurance sector, it has paid off for us, as we have recognised the value of putting our customers’ needs first.
Secondly, many of us unknowingly use AI every day. For example, every time a barrister, solicitor or law student searches for a judgment on JustisOne, the immediacy and relevance of the results are a product of AI. The platform’s search functionality is built on a branch of AI known as machine learning, which is used to categorise and organise millions of cases and legislative provisions and analyse the contents of each individual page to make those simple searches possible.
We also don’t require any inspections to be made to the property, even during the winter and charge no excess on claims. In terms of protecting the property itself, we include covers as standard that are particularly relevant to unoccupied properties (such as theft or malicious damage) which means customers don’t pay higher premiums for covers that aren’t really necessary. This should appeal to both the solicitors that we work with and their clients.
Attending legal technology events will enable you to realise how you might already be using AI but more importantly, give you an opportunity to try and test the services that could make your business more efficient and offer greater value to your clients.
Huddling up to the next generation of legal consumer can not only improve the service for clients but also those working within the sector. Without a doubt, most legal professionals got to where they are today because they care about representing the best interests of those who need their services.
While the hype of AI may be fading, the scope and impact of AI in the legal sector are still largely unknown. I would encourage you not to wait – visit one of the many legal technology events around the world and find out yourself how AI can transform the delivery of your legal services.
Improving how a product or service functions for those that use it most leaves more time to concentrate on matters that are more important - and less time spent focusing on the bureaucracy that can often just serve to get in the way.
“Attending legal technology events will enable you to realise how you might already be using AI but more importantly, give you an opportunity to try and test the services…”
“Although this is quite an uncommon approach within the insurance sector, it has paid off for us, as we have recognised the value of putting our customers’ needs first.” 41
Stay informed, be inspired
Visit the new Modern Law website for the latest news, events & specialist updates to help your business stay transformational:
Modern Law Magazine’s editorial board provides practical guidance to our readership about the latest market developments. Our editorial board members’ knowledge and insight is extremely effective and valuable to firms facing impending business challenges. Our members get seen both in print and online through
our news feed and social media platforms. Members also have the opportunity to be included in events including roadshows, roundtables, conferences and award ceremonies. The editorial board enables you to provide solutions through your editorial contributions, positioning you as thought leaders and granting excellent exposure in the legal sector.
But don’t just take it from us:
“Being on the editorial board of Modern Law has given me an opportunity to share ideas with the editor and other members of the Board. I have been made to feel that my contribution is unique and valued. It also has meant that the readership get the chance to hear a psychological perspective on law, legal practice and quality improvement, which I think is worthwhile and positive.” Professor Hugh Koch, Clinical Psychologist and Director, Hugh Koch Associates and Professor in Law & Psychology, Birmingham City University.
If you feel that your company is a legal leader then please get in touch – we would love to talk about the range of benefits we can offer with membership.
Martin Smith, Project Manager, Modern Law Magazine
is the Tax Director at Griffiths Allen.
is the Marketing Director,
How can conveyancers transform their service?
The Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) landscape has changed exponentially over the last five years and our experience has shown that many conveyancing firms have not kept up to date with these changes, resulting in both substantial overpayments and underpayments of SDLT by legal consumers, as Stephen Griffiths writes.
In the last issue of Modern Law, Jimmy Vestbirk, Founder of Legal Geek, said the UK regulatory environment is ‘an exciting platform’ to help transform legal services. Does this translate on an operational level when deploying new technology, new services and new ways to interact with and service clients?
This lack of knowledge creates two main problems:
The UK is a major international financial and legal centre and has a strong reputation for honesty and integrity. But sadly, because of this, professional businesses, like law firms are targeted by money launderers and fraudsters who use them to clean their dirty cash.
1. The legal consumers are left open to tax demands from HMRC for their underpayments, together with substantial penalties and interest that arises from a lack of reasonable care in dealing with their tax affairs. The conveyancer is left open to litigation from their clients for those underpayments.
This is why law firms are under obligation to carry out due diligence, i.e. compulsory identification and background checks, on their clients, both individuals and businesses.
2. The conveyancers are having to foot the bill for the additional professional time taken to recover overpayments that need not have been made in the first place, and, on occasion, are having to claim on their PI policy as some overpayments are out of time for recovery from HMRC.
While this is undoubtedly a necessary process, it is also a problematic one. Because, not only is it very time consuming – the checks themselves and then collating all this information, scanning it and storing it securely - but with ever sophisticated fraudulent documents, it is actually very difficult to spot the fakes, even when the proper processes are in place.
There appears to be a general lack of understanding in the conveyancing profession on mixed-use status, multiple dwellings relief, the 3% additional rate for second homes and the 15% rate that applies to the purchase of certain dwellings by a company. This lack of understanding can be compounded by a conveyancer’s obligations to meet the conditions detailed in paragraph 10 of the UK Finance Mortgage Lenders’ Handbook, that obliges the conveyancer to fund the SDLT liability in certain circumstances. This could lead to SDLT liabilities being overestimated as a self-preservation measure.
As a result, many law firms are now turning to the fairly young, but thriving regulatory tech or regtech industry to help them meet their obligations. Regtech is transforming the way many law firms work, and therefore, how they are able to service their clients.
Advising clients in a customer care letter that the firm ‘does not provide tax advice’ may have been acceptable five years ago (when the SDLT 1 was no more than an administrative exercise undertaken by a secretary) but this will not cut it in 2019 and beyond. A transformation is needed.
By turning to an electronic verification platform, law firms are able to do all their checks in one place, safe in the knowledge that not only are the complying to AML regulations but that they are doing it in the most accurate and efficient way.
If conveyancing firms do nothing else this year, they should:
Currently, electronic verification is not compulsory, but the fifth money laundering directive states it should be done where possible. It is well known that electronic verification is the most accurate and effective way of carrying out proper due diligence, and with ever more regtech options out there to support law firms, it is only a matter of time before the industry finds regtech solutions to all cumbersome manual processes open to human error.
(a) Ensure the legal consumer understands that SDLT has become very complex and is not included in the conveyancing quote; (b) Appoint an individual in the firm to be the go to person on SDLT matters; (c) Ensure the individual is at least up to date with the four areas of SDLT mentioned above; (d) Ensure that the individual is authorised to subcontract complex SDLT matters to a qualified and experienced tax professional outside the firm; and,
Not only will this make law firms more efficient, it will allow them to focus more time on customer service and spend less time worrying about red tape.
(e) Subcontract the more complex SDLT matters to a tax professional outside the firm.
“Regtech is transforming the way many law firms work, and therefore, how they are able to service their clients.”
“This will not cut it in 2019 and beyond. A transformation is needed.” 43
Burcher Jennings is a pioneer in costs, pricing and funding. We boost law firm profitability and improve client relationships, delivering swift, measurable results. Our nationwide network of offices is staffed by experienced costs lawyers, costs draftsmen and pricing and funding specialists. Run by lawyers, for lawyers, we really understand your business. Contact us to see the innovative and ground-breaking improvements we can quickly make to your business through our uniquely holistic approach to pricing, costs and funding.
t. 0870 7777 100 e. email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
INCREASING YOUR PROFITABILITY THROUGH INNOVATION
LONDON • BIRMINGHAM • MANCHESTER • EXETER • BATH • CARLISLE • TRURO
MSc in Construction Law & Dispute Resolution King’s College London - The Dickson Poon School of Law Centre of Construction Law
Applications are invited for this highly regarded post-graduate programme:
• two-year part-time, post-experience, multi-disciplinary programme for lawyers and construction professionals, now in its thirty-ﬁrst year, covering the law and its application to construction projects, practices, people and problems • four taught modules and a dissertation, including foundation modules on law for construction professionals or construction technology for lawyers • international, multi-disciplinary student cohort with strong alumni association • nine full days’ tuition each term in central London (three weekends of Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays) plus regular on-line tutorials • academic staﬀ led by Professor David Mosey, Professor Renato Nazzini and Professor Phillip Capper, supported by leading academics and practitioners • access to leading UK and international research and high-proﬁle Government and industry collaboration • specialist library resources and online facilities available to students • qualiﬁes for professional CPD and, with the additional award-writing examination, exemption from the CIArb Fellowship examination • next intake September 2019 – early applications are encouraged (ﬁrst application deadline 29 March). Applications will remain open if places are available and the programme will be closed as soon as it is full. Applicants must have a degree and/or acceptable professional qualifications plus, (for construction professionals and non-practising lawyers), at least two years’ relevant work experience; or (for practising lawyers), at least completed pupillage or one year of training contract. For further information on the Centre, or to download a copy of the prospectus, visit the Centre of Construction Law website: www.kcl.ac.uk/law/research/centres/construction/about.aspx, or contact Sue Hart on 020 7848 2643, email email@example.com. Details on how to apply can be found via the main KCL prospectus pages at: www.kcl.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/taught-courses/construction-law-and-dispute-resolution-msc.aspx MLM33 Kings College London Ad.indd 1
Our Transformation The Coal Authority has a much wider role than supporting the public and professionals with coal mining related incidents. It supports those looking to understand the landscape their property is situated on, to share its unique expertise, data and the impact of mining to enable a positive and buoyant property market in all areas of the country. As industry leader for the supply of mining reports, Modern Law spoke to Andrew Simpson, from the Coal Authority, to find out more. The Coal Authority is well versed in working with professionals, to share our expertise and explain our mining report information through our range of interpretive reports. Transforming our future Our ongoing commitment to innovation means that we are continually reviewing and improving our own products and services. 2019 will see us working even closer with our clients to understand their needs - for example as part of the further development of our Coal Authority CON29M mining report. In particular we will be focusing on adding more value to the report and helping our clients to view findings quickly and clearly. We are very proud to say that our report turnaround is superfast – 99% of all mining report orders are delivered within 24 hours. We also have an incredible online ordering system with streamlined digital information at our fingertips to support you, without compromising on the quality of the information, the clarity or accuracy. Whilst we are continually complimented on our speed of service, we’re in the
“We continually seek out opportunities to provide training and information for anyone who would like it around coal mining and mining reports.”
“We also make it a priority to give customers direct access to experts in our Commercial Report and Advisory Services Team. They are on hand over the phone or via email to interpret our information in a user-friendly way.” process of taking recent feedback from the market to further refine our reports and the advice we provide, to help conveyancers do their job with greater speed. At the same time we will also be adding further value and interpretation into our reports. Client care Over recent years, we have invested a significant amount of time in exploring our customer relationships, gathering first-hand feedback on how we can improve further and also where the property market is going next. This has helped us to refine our offering and be confident that when conveyancers choose us, they will receive a fast, first-class, market leading and accurate service. We are incredibly proud of how well we interact with our colleagues across the Coal Authority; including our experts who work in the field and our experienced in house mining surveyors. We also make it a priority to give customers direct access to experts in our Commercial Report and Advisory Services Team. They are on hand over the phone or via email to interpret our information in a user-friendly way, to identify any potential risks and help with key information. All types of queries come into the team and our highly skilled customer service advisors are on hand to support conveyancers to have professional and insightful conversations with their
clients as well as providing guidance to homeowners and homebuyers themselves when neede
Having a mineshaft under or near a property actually shouldn’t deter people from buying or selling a property. However, occasionally some lenders and solicitors raise questions about the related risk. Our priority? Listening to you Customer service is so fundamentally important to us and we are incredibly passionate about delivering an exemplary service. We work hard to keep in touch with our customers. We spend a lot of time creating opportunities for conveyancers to meet us, ask us questions and feedback to us. Our experts also hold a number of CPD accredited training events, seminars and sessions in addition to our various webinars. We continually seek out opportunities to provide training and information for anyone who would like it around coal mining and mining reports. To find out more or to contact a member of our team please call 0345 762 6848 and select option 1. Alternatively you can get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Our ongoing commitment to innovation means that we are continually reviewing and improving our own products and services.”
is the Senior Business Account Lead at the Coal Authority.
Transforming Transparency Confidence and certainty in online quoting is essential for Transparency, as Ochresoft reports. With digital transformation, increasing competition, changing regulation and growing customer demands, the need for legal services firms to move from paperbased functionality to a digital environment is becoming increasingly important. In a bid to support legal services firms replace paper-based systems with a more digitised approach, Ochresoft has created a range of tools, as part of its Intelliworks case management system, to support practitioners conduct an increasing amount of tasks digitally. For firms without a centralised system, Intelliworks not only supports conveyancers and private client practitioners with managing their case workflow, it also enables departments beyond these to use the system as a central repository. Here, versions of documents can be saved, task history recorded, emails can be ‘drag and
dropped’ for archiving in one place, and more. In addition, Intelliworks includes a Quotes module, which enables the automated production of quotes. Professional detailed quotes can be sent by email or post, in seconds, with the appropriate fee scale, narrative and disbursements, providing instants quotes to prospects. They are then centrally stored and with a ‘convert to case’ button, once the client gives the go ahead to proceed. Dawn Moores, Conveyancing Assistant for Painters Solicitors explains the advantages: “Before Intelliworks Quotes, we would manually create our conveyancing quotes. This would mean having to contact different secretaries to check the details, which could take time depending on workloads and availability. Plus, we would be referring to a price list, so had to make sure we were taking into account the right fees and disbursements, so nothing was missed.
“With Intelliworks Quotes, all our pricing details have been fed into the system and so now, it’s very easy to create a quote there and then. “We have 100% confidence that everything which should be in the quote is in there and there will be no discrepancies, enabling us to be fully transparent with our fees.”
“We have 100% confidence that everything which should be in the quote is in there and there will be no discrepancies, enabling us to be fully transparent with our fees.’ Dawn Moores, Painters Solicitors.
A heritage of innovation Tony Rollason, Landmark Information Group In 2019, Landmark celebrates its 25th anniversary and it’s fair to say that in that time a huge amount of change has occurred in the property industry. The actual legal process and requirements have remained unaltered, yet the systems and technologies used within legal practices have evolved over time. In particular, the way property, land and environmental due diligence is gathered, processed and delivered to legal services professionals has greatly advanced, and innovations are continuing to help the industry evolve, which is positive for everyone involved. As we move through the year, innovation will continue to create opportunities for improved speed and efficiency in the sale and purchase process; it is something the Government has been calling for in recent years and technology is a true enabler to support this pledge and make it a reality. From a property search point of view,
conveyancers are already accessing reports in a digitised format that offer a far more intuitive and interactive approach to managing risk. Rather than simply read a standard legal PDF report, legal professionals can now interact with intelligent maps and digital datasets, which also have a wide appeal to homebuyers, who too can fully understand the content of the reports. Data from searches can now also be supplied in ‘packet’ form, that conveyancers are able to integrate into their internal workflow system. In fact, we foresee that case management workflows and integrating more working practices here will start to join the process much more tightly together, and we should start seeing a far more seamless process all round. If we then add to this the anticipated proliferation of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning tools and techniques, I believe we will start to see fewer bottlenecks and delays, plus a more transparent customer experience for homebuyers and professionals alike.
is the Regional Manager at Landmark Information Group. www.landmark.co.uk
Stewart Online Solution. Designed with you in mind.
At Stewart Title, when our clients tell us they have a need, we strive to respond with a solution. We recently added both a Japanese Knotweed Policy and Fraud Solution Policy to the more than 150 policies that can be ordered via Stewart Online Solution. It takes just three easy steps to generate a policy for most title issues. For a more customised solution or any help, our Team can easily be contacted through the system. For more information, visit stewartsolution.com or contact us at 020 7010 7821 or email@example.com.
ÂŠ 2018 Stewart. All rights reserved.
Transforming the searches customer journey In 2017 Groundsure launched Avista, the most comprehensive residential report including seven environmental searches. David Phillips and Catherine Shiers, Groundsure, report on its success. Avista covers data on contaminated land, all four major flood risks, ground stability, radon, current and planned energy features, transportation, and 10 years of planning data in an all in one, user friendly, easy to read report. It simplifies the searches process for our clients and importantly is easy to understand for the purchaser too. When the Groundsure team set out to create this completely new environmental report for residential conveyancers, it was an ambitious task as we are in an industry already saturated with new products and almost non-stop product updates. The development of Avista was a real exercise in learning what the customer needed and then providing just that. We started this process with the customer, talking to
conveyancers, the people buying properties and industry bodies. Following this in-depth consultation period, we built the new report from the ground up, then did further market research, tested the report, researched and tested again. We wanted Avista to be perfect. In order to make this work we quickly realised the need to develop a deeper understanding of the pain points of our customers and the wish list of what they wanted to see. The product rapidly evolved through a series of prototypes that culminated in a search report that pulled off the trick of being significantly more useful but a fraction as long (pass reports are on average fewer than 20 pages). The result was Avista and our customers love it – it saves them time and money (reading time, follow up time, printing costs, postage) and it provides the answers they need with clear follow up actions (via the Avista Action Alert) when a risk is identified.
Digitally connected The property market is changing – from regulation and transparency to digital access expectations. SearchFlow explains how its transformation is helping to support leading UK law firms.
searches, title insurance, surveys or identity checks for one property or a portfolio, legal professionals are turning to technology to help streamline this process, using online dashboards to centralise and manage each and every order and delivery.
The property market is changing. With government pledging to improve the transaction process, there is much work happening behind the scenes to make this a reality. In addition, consumer expectation has changed and today, with the digital world we live in, consumers expect to be able to monitor a property sale or purchase, in real-time, or access quotes for legal services online.
For SearchFlow, we have undertaken a significant programme of transformation to provide a new online ordering platform to speed-up and simplify the ordering and delivery of property searches, utilising advanced mapping and an intuitive dashboard.
This is creating pressure on law firms to provide a more modernised service that meets the needs of the ‘digitally connected consumer’. With the evolving industry, the way in which solicitors and licenced conveyancers manage their property search requirements is also changing. Whether ordering
UK law firm Shoosmiths provides a good example of how this has been put into action. The firm’s Real Estate Group is one of the largest in the country. Its teams advise on real estate, construction, planning, property litigation, and environmental issues and clients include commercial and residential developers, investors, retail and leisure operators, social housing bodies, major corporate occupiers, banks and other funders and a range of public sector bodies.
“The development of Avista was a real exercise in learning what the customer needed and then providing just that.” Avista provides simplicity, accuracy and clarity all in a single search. As we continue to develop our customer centric reports, we recently used the same Avista product development process on our commercial offering, with the redevelopment of our Review report. For more information about Avista visit: groundsure.com/movingsearchesforward for more information about our commercial reports visit: groundsure.com/commercial.
is the Head of Marketing and Catherine Shiers is the Technical Communications Manager at Groundsure.
Carly Cutler, Paralegal at Shoosmiths said: “Working with SearchFlow saves a huge amount of time – we can provide a highly complex portfolio of properties or sites that our clients are purchasing, and they are able to assess what is needed and provide highly accurate timescales regarding turnaround times. “The online Portfolio Manager dashboard is very easy to use, meaning at any time I can log-in to check the current status of open projects. This is very useful.”
“With government pledging to improve the transaction process, there is much work happening behind the scenes to make this a reality.”
Get to know the new SearchFlow SearchFlow is the UK’s leading provider of conveyancing searches, processing over 1m searches every year and supporting around 1 in every 4 UK property transactions. Isn’t it time you spoke to SearchFlow?
1 in 4
conveyancing searches every year
property transactions supported annually
legal firms across England and Wales
due diligence search types
170+ members of staff
data providers and legal supplier partners
2 x CXA
Customer Service Award wins in 2018
Customer Excellence professionals
Want to know more? Contact us on 0870 423 2922 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Call for sites’: know your options Paul Addison, DevAssist, provides a useful case study for readers to show how relying on planning data alone could be dangerous to solicitors. It is a little-known fact that councils have a ‘call for sites’ process that results in the preparation of a Land Availability Assessment. This identifies land that is found to both suitable and available for development - including land that’s in protected areas such as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and even Public Open Spaces. What is particularly worrying is that planning data alone will not reveal these sites as the sites haven’t yet had a planning application submitted on them. There are only two options available to you if you want to find these sites: 1. Go find them yourself or 2. Buy a report from DevAssist - the only company that provides this service in England and Wales. DevAssist has thousands of case studies where it has revealed such information to property buyers – and a large property in Windsor jumps out as one of its favourites. The purchaser in this example had agreed to purchase a listed building sitting in 12 acres in a rural location. It would have not been unreasonable to view the
“It is a little-known fact that councils have a ‘call for sites’ process that results in the preparation of a Land Availability Assessment.” remote location and assume it was free of development risk. We all know what happens when you assume. It turned out the property straddled two councils, Windsor and Maidenhead and Bracknell. Bracknell has failed to demonstrate that it has a five-year supply of housing, therefore leaving it vulnerable to hostile planning applications for development. In such cases there is an automatic presumption of development. There was also a large area of agricultural land that the council had found suitable for development in its Land Availability Assessment. It was going to provide 2200 homes and it was directly opposite the listed building that the clients were buying. It would have had a catastrophic impact on the area and the marketability / value of the subject property. You might think that this is an isolated example but,
based on our experience, it’s a common occurrence. Brendon Moorhouse, a barrister at Guildhall chambers said: “I suspect this service will become a standard requirement for all solicitor conveyancing searches.” The innovation provided by DevAssist allows for firms and their clients to access these reports – backed up by our skills and the interpretation of the information to create an opinion and reveal the facts. You only have to look at the Bird and Bird case study to see why relying on planning data alone could be dangerous to solicitors. For more information about how you can order a report from DevAssist, contact your local Index Office.
is the Managing Director at DevAssist
Safeguard your client & your practice As title to properties has moved from paper to electronic, the opportunities for fraud have increased and the burden on lawyers to protect their client has grown as well. Robert Kelly, Stewart Title, reports on the latest protection solution. Well-publicised cases (such as Dreamvar (UK) Limited v Mischon de Reya) indicate that the courts will hold lawyers liable for the losses suffered by their clients and their lenders. This means that a lawyer, whose client loses their purchase funds because of a criminal pretending to be the owner of a property, could be called upon to make good the loss. The lawyer will then need to notify their professional indemnity insurers with a consequent adverse effect on their renewal premiums. We at Stewart Title are always looking for
ways to assist lawyers and work closely with them to reduce this risk.
In order to offer protection to buyers, lenders and their lawyers, we now offer a Fraud Solution policy that provides cover against loses suffered as a result of fraud for properties valued up to £1,000.000. The policy contains an express waiver of the right of subrogation against the lawyer. Clients benefit from having a property specific policy and simply have to prove the loss suffered as a result of the criminal activity. The client does not need to prove negligence on the part of their lawyer. As a result, losses should be repaid more quickly allowing the client to start looking for a new property and moving on from a very stress inducing experience.
the policy can cover empty and unencumbered properties that are often the target of fraudsters. Premiums start from £25 and policies can be ordered for one-off purchases or as a Block Policy to cover all of the transactions undertaken by a law firm. Thankfully, property fraud of this type remains rare. However, when it happens, the consequences can be disastrous for buyers, their lenders and their lawyers. Our policy can offer some protection against these consequences.
In order to offer the widest protection,
“In order to offer protection to buyers, lenders and their lawyers, we now offer a Fraud Solution policy that provides cover against loses suffered as a result of fraud for properties valued up to £1,000.000.” 51
is the Commercial Business Development Manager at Stewart Title
STAY AHEAD OF THE PACK
Amanda Illing, Hardwicke Chambers, shares the set’s approach to innovation and transformation and the benefits of a clear vision.
ransforming a barristers’ chambers as Hardwicke has done, to create a leading commercial set capable to dealing with all the challenges of the modern legal market takes vision, skill, teamwork and determination. All of which Hardwicke’s management team has in abundance and which, as we survey our best financial results to date, has paid significant financial dividends. Thinking outside the box and strong leadership has been at the heart of Hardwicke from its very inception. I recall working alongside leading silk, Nigel Jones QC, as Head of Chambers when I first joined - an exceptional individual who combines outstanding legal ability with shrewd strategic ability, first rate business acumen and excellent people management skills. Current Heads of Chambers, Paul Reed QC and PJ Kirby QC, have continued with the same approach. A good business also recognises when it needs expertise from others and herein lies another key component which has been necessary to Hardwicke’s transformation – excellent staff recruited for particular skill sets and allowed to develop their roles so as to play to their strengths. My personal focus as CEO is on strategic direction, clients, and running Hardwicke as a modern, professional business.
“Hardwicke’s success is not only in attracting quality cases and clients. It has also persuaded the legal market that it is a quality outfit going places.” Collaboration is absolutely key to a successful business and fundamental to the successful implementation of our business plan. Achieving this requires not only the vision necessary to put together a plan but also complete transparency of operation. Traditionally barristers’ chambers have been rather secretive in their operation. However, Hardwicke benefits from a very clear administrative structures and a culture of openness – although encouraging members to air their views sometimes requires resilience on the part of those receiving them! We recognise in our business plan that we need to be ambitious, even if, at the time, it seems a stretch. Without ambition, businesses stagnate.
Like many other leading commercial sets, we started off life with quite a diverse legal offering. However, the legal market never stands still and Hardwicke soon recognised that its future success depended on a rationalisation of the practice areas it offered so as to present as a coherent, commercial offering to clients. Achieving this has not been easy but, luckily, I work alongside an amazing group of colleagues because I cannot be (and should not be) delivering all these things myself. It is a key part of my role to recognise talent and nurture colleagues so as to put together a resilient, cohesive and collaborative team. For example, I was fortunate to persuade Deborah Anderson to join as Chambers Director and recruit and later promote both Hardwicke’s Senior Practice Managers (Richard Sumarno and James DuncanHartill).
This is not something that could be said of Hardwicke. Having, over the last six years, honed our offering down to eight main practice areas (commercial dispute resolution, construction, insolvency, insurance, private client, professional negligence and property as well as a niche in clinical negligence/personal injury), Hardwicke has been recruiting strategically to enable it to develop those areas further. Last year also saw Hardwicke invest in a brand new website, designed to reflect its new structure and showcase its talent and achievements. The new website is definitely helping the legal market understand what Hardwicke is now – what we do and what we stand for. It has been structured so as to benefit from the latest developments in IT (e.g. the analytics underlying the site) and with
the primary objective of taking the viewer to the information they require as quickly and succinctly as possible. Pages such as member profiles and event details are downloadable as PDFs and the site is designed to meet the increasing number of viewers from mobile devices. Showcasing our expertise is key as Hardwicke is keen to demonstrate its involvement in high profile and leading cases such as: • SKAT v Elysium Global (Dubai) Limited: a claim by the Danish Government to recover £2bn+ alleged to have been paid out pursuant to a fraudulent conspiracy against 96 defendants in the Commercial Court, the DIFC and local Dubai court with associated proceedings in the US and Malaysia. The claim involves one of the largest disclosure exercises ever and is making headlines worldwide. • Enterprise. The insolvency of this leading Gibraltan insurer has had ramifications across the UK, France, Greece, Italy and Ireland and includes a £47m arbitration, advising on claims arising courtesy of Enterprise’s extensive motor book, disputed ownership of various
“A good business also recognises when it needs expertise from others and herein lies another key component which has been necessary to Hardwicke’s transformation – excellent staff recruited for particular skill sets and allowed to develop their roles so as to play to their strengths.” books of UK business, a 11m dispute concerning gap insurance and recovery of £114m of reinsurance. • Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Saeed Bin Shakhboot Al Nehayan v Ioannis Kent AKA John Kent  EWHC 333 (Comm) (22 February 2018): the multi-million £ claims arose from a joint venture demerger. The judgment established new law on the duty of good faith in commercial contracts. There is also an important judgment on sanctions/debarring orders for non-disclosure (QBD (Comm) (Christopher Hancock QC) 11/04/2017 LTL 13/4/2017). Hardwicke’s success is not only in attracting quality cases and clients. It has also persuaded the legal market that it is a quality outfit going places. Legal directory recommendations have increased substantially year on year and awards have been flowing in. Multi award winning
Chambers of the Year 2019 Award, Brie Stevens-Hoare QC was awarded Real Estate Silk of the Year (Chambers Bar Awards) and shortlisted for the inaugural Inspirational Woman Barrister of the Year as well as Modern Law’s Barrister of the Year 2019, whilst Deborah Anderson won the inaugural Bar Pro Bono Staff Award. David Pliener was shortlisted for a Chambers Bar Award, Amanda for CEO of the Year and the staff for Practice Team of the Year at the Legal 500 Awards. I am (I believe justifiably) proud of the distance Hardwicke has come. However, all these achievements are as nothing if you do not create a place where people want to work. Mutual respect, consideration of those less fortunate and a balance between professional and personal lives lies at the heart of Hardwicke’s culture. It is this achievement of which I am most proud.
In the last year Hardwicke won Chambers of the Year (British Legal Awards) and has been shortlisted for the Modern Law
is the CEO at Hardwicke Chambers.
Monica Savic-Jabrow, Barrister Direct, introduces Quick Costs and everything you need to know about the firm.
or any law firm operating in the current legal landscape, cash flow is a major priority and, for many, a major concern. As the lifespan of a matter increases, so does the time for any given firm to realise their work in progress on that file. Even when damages are successfully negotiated, costs become an unduly drawn out process littered with chaser e-mails, stand-offs during negotiations and lulls of silence. An idea designed to combat that? Quick Costs. Quick Costs was established in late 2018 and will commence trading in January 2019. Formed by Andrew McKie, Monica Savic-Jabrow and Ian Skeate, with a combined experience of over 25 years, Quick Costs is a legal practice specialising in the law and practice of legal costs. Quick Costs was set up following a recognised and first-hand experienced need for change in the marketplace. Historically, firms have been slow to process bills, negotiate and chase costs. Similarly, there has often been a reluctance to commence proceedings or make applications for interim payments. This hesitation and delay causes law firms, operating within the modern day environment, significant cash flow problems, which no firm can afford. With the changes to LASPO and the Civil Liability Bill, there is now more pressure than ever on law firms to convert their work in progress into realised cash, in particular with interim payments, speedier costs settlements and the deployment of full armoury under CPR 36. The historic solution to such issues has been work in progress funding or costs advance funding. However, with the market shrinking and funders becoming nervous about the changes, there is a very real gap in the market for a costs outfit that puts speedy and strong recovery at the heart of its business model, and, as such, we are extremely proud to pioneer Quick Costs.
At Quick Costs, we pride ourselves on not being a traditional costs firm, from your first point of contact, Quick Costs provide a new approach to costs putting our client’s needs first with a friendly, approachable and nationwide service. Our service is focussed purely on our clients, their needs and interests. Quick Costs is driven by fast recoveries whilst retaining technical skills and experience at its focus to ensure maximum recovery. We pride ourselves on our attention to detail and consistent level of client-focussed service, ensuring that your costs are handled in an efficient, professional and effective manner, using our bespoke case management system, programmed with our service standards, available on our website, which provides for automated efficiency, whilst maintaining our technical expertise in both costs and practice. Quick Costs’ Expertise allows us to assist your firm with a range of services in personal injury, clinical negligence, housing, construction and commercial work, which includes: n Costs Drafting Services – on both an informal statement of costs and formal bill of costs, fixed and standard costs matters n Costs Negotiation Services – on both fixed and standard costs matters n Costs Budgeting and Management Services n Provisional Assessment and Detailed Assessment Services
Our unique positioning as Barristers, in the areas, serviced by the firm permits knowledge of the issues that arise, how to deal with them and how to achieve maximum recovery for you and your client. Our role as Directors of BarristerDirect also allows us to understand the precise position, situation and needs of our clients and how to best achieve those needs, speedily and effectively. Quick Costs understand that our prospective clients want to meet us, understand us and understand our knowledge and capabilities, prior to instructing a new firm in the marketplace. Subsequently, as part of our newly formed firm, we will be travelling to see new and old contacts new and old, delivering free seminars on a range of issues from conditional fee agreements and qualified one way costs shifting to budgets, alternative funding models and the upcoming changes. Our seminars will be hosted on:
14th January 2019 (10am – 1pm)
21st January 2019 (10am – 1pm)
28th January 2019 (10am – 1pm) Places will be limited to 40 spaces and two per firm, so please book early to avoid disappointment. The seminars will last three hours and will be delivered by our Directors, Andrew, Monica and Ian.
n Advocacy Services n Training and CPD
“For any law firm operating in the current legal landscape, cash flow is a major priority and, for many, a major concern.” 54
For more information about Quick Costs, please visit our website at
www.quickcosts.co.uk or contact
Miss Monica Savic-Jabrow on 07983 866132 or
Mr Andrew McKie on 07739 964012.
HOW RESILIENT IS YOUR FIRM AGAINST THE GROWING CYBER THREAT? 98% of law firms have a business continuity plan, according to the 2018 Instant Group Legal Business Continuity Survey. However, the response planned out in these documents and the response that actually happens are often very different, as Francesca Taylor, YUDU Sentinel, reports.
he legal sector is one of the most targeted industries when it comes to cyber crime thanks to corporate espionage (law firms do, after all, have the most valuable secrets), political ‘hacktivists’ and those simply after the sector’s £32.7 billion. With the average worker receiving 16 malicious phishing emails a month according to Symantec’s 2018 Internet Security Threat Report, a breach is inevitable. GDPR brought with it strict penalties for those who are not prepared for a cyber attack. “We are in a new climate of fines and penalties. The FCA and ICO will double or even quadruple fines if they consider that a firm or company has not shown sufficient preparedness. The working assumption is that all law firms with be the target of attacks in 2019. The size of the fine, however, will be determined by being able to demonstrate good preparation and response,” explains Richard Stephenson, CEO of YUDU Sentinel. In other words: to avoid the wrath of regulatory bodies, law firms need to be able to show that they had everything in place to minimise disruption and damage to their clients. Let’s say for a moment that your firm has taken all the steps recommended by the experts. Your business continuity plan is watertight. Your staff have been trained on how to spot phishing. Your HR department have updated their screening processes to minimise the insider threat. However, one of your paralegals is working remotely using free (but insecure) WIFI from a café. His laptop has been compromised and malware is now working its way through the device. In a moment of panic, he forgets his training and races back to the office to seek the help of IT and connects to the company network. The infected laptop has now spread its malware to the whole company.
“As cyber crime is set to continue rising and global political instability will see a rise in cyber attacks as espionage, not being prepared simply isn’t an option.”
The malware shuts down your servers and the crisis begins. Are you able to check in on everyone without email, contact databases and calling trees? “In all incidents, the first priority is to ensure staff are safe,” Richard explains, adding: “Plans that do not have the mechanism for doing this effectively are seriously flawed”. Not only might it be impossible to use traditional communications channels, it may even be dangerous to. “If the hackers are inside your communications, you cannot use existing channels for managing the crisis. They will just react to your moves. Firms need to have strategies for communicating through robust and independent channels.” Knowing exactly which channels you will use, and knowing that they are purposebuilt crisis management solutions that will not let you down, is crucial.
fire and more. It is not sufficient to have a tick box BC plan, because any inadequate preparation will translate into large fines and that terrible consequence, reputational loss,” warns Richard. With the ICO able to dole out huge fines to those who have neglected their crisis preparation, operational resilience is an investment that firms can’t afford to ignore. As cyber crime is set to continue rising and global political instability will see a rise in cyber attacks as espionage (as the Marriott hack demonstrates), not being prepared simply isn’t an option. Law firms are a number one target, and owe it to their staff, clients and shareholders to ensure that they have the systems in place to cope with whatever disruption might be thrown at them this year.
Once you have managed to contact everyone and alert them to the situation, you need your disaster recovery plans. According to the Instant Group report, loss of data is one of the most feared consequences of a cyber attack – without your servers, can you access the plans you need? Without a backup system that lets you share documents, just getting the information you need can slow you down and cost you in both money and reputation as stakeholders and clients wait for updates. In fact, having a backup system in place is not just good business, it’s a requirement. “We face threats from cyber, terrorism, power outage, supply chain failure,
is the Marketing Communications Executive at YUDU Sentinel.
Strive for inclusivity Amanda Hamilton, NALP, explains why the we should transform and strive for an Inclusive legal services sector rather than being divisive and incohesive.
o many changes have affected the legal services sector over the last 30 years, that if my parents were alive (both of whom were lawyers), they would not recognise any of it! Discussions may have been going on for decades regarding the possibility of merging the two major legal professionals, barristers and solicitors, into one, but as we all know by now,
“This article is a call to action: solicitors, please understand that paralegals do not wish to undermine the work that you do nor the services that you offer.”
this will never happen. There are too many interests to protect and so much regulation that we now find ourselves in a situation where there is no turning back. Barristers used to have the monopoly on advocacy skills. This was what made them who they were as professionals. This, plus an uncanny ability to grasp what a case was about, and the legal principles involved just from reading a
solicitor’s brief, gave them their identity. This was not something that could be taught, it had to be an innate ability with which an individual was born. Ask any of the ‘old school’ barristers and they will tell you. Similarly, to be a successful solicitor required certain other skills, not least of which was a need and vocation to offer a service to your clients, with whom you had empathy.
itself. From franchising the professional qualifications, to the virtual eradication of legal aid. The profession has placed itself in jeopardy. The consequence of increasing numbers of institutions able to offer the professional qualifications has caused irrevocable damage to the lives of graduates - who have been misled into thinking that their career pathways would be mapped out, just because they have completed an LLB or LPC. In fact, this is most definitely not the case for most, because there are simply not enough training contracts or pupillages to go around. Is it any wonder that there is a new underground profession rising from the ranks of this disappointed group of individuals? Paralegals are now emerging as the fastest growing legal service professionals. The work that paralegals do, offers a lifeline into a sector that disappointed graduates may not otherwise be able to enter into. The slack left by the virtual eradication of legal aid is being filled by paralegals and offers a lifeline to consumers. Yet there still remains a reluctance (or is it fear?) on the part of the regulated professions to recognise paralegals as independent professionals in their own right, when all that paralegals are trying to do is to fill the gaps left as a consequence of decisions made by the traditional professions.
It used to be that when entering the legal profession, you knew which of the two was most suitable for your skills and talents. You either chose one pathway or the other. With solicitors able to become solicitoradvocates and with barristers being able to register as direct access and being granted the right to conduct litigation, one could argue that there is virtually no difference anymore between the two professions – except, of course, that each has its own professional membership and regulatory body to protect their members’ interests. Consumer first Somewhere in the last few decades, we have gone terribly wrong. The profession has got confused about what its function is. Our duty is to the prospective client, or the ‘consumer’ as we now tend categorise them, rather than to internalise everything for the betterment of our own profession, or to increase our profit margins and commercialise what we do. The changes mentioned above have been implemented by the profession
We are yet to see if the new SQE (Solicitors’ Qualifying Exams) will make any significant change in practice to the lives of those wishing to enter the profession. There are also further discussions at high levels about the future of legal aid. However the damage has already been done, and it may take a long while to see the consequence of any of these changes. Solicitors: A call to action This article is a call to action: solicitors, please understand that paralegals do not wish to undermine the work that you do nor the services that you offer. Paralegals do not wish to take over the legal services sector, but merely wish to complement what is already there. In fact, the whole point is that paralegals do not want to be solicitors or barristers! They wish to offer the consumer access to justice at a reasonable cost. Let’s face it, without legal aid for small claims, most prospective claimants can’t afford the fees that solicitors and barristers charge. Likewise, many solicitors and barristers would not consider it financially viable to take on such cases. It is a fact that consumers are now forced to take on the burden to proceed with their case themselves as
“We should work together in a spirit of co-operation and understanding if not for our own benefit, then for the benefit of all consumers.” litigants in person (LIP) since they cannot afford to pay for the traditional representation. Consequently, the court system has slowed down in order to ensure that such LIPs are given the correct guidance on the court process. Alongside this, more and more professionals are offering ‘pro-bono’ services, which the legal profession as a whole will be unable to sustain indefinitely. Paralegals are not statutorily regulated but with long established organisations such as NALP operating as the voluntary regulator for the paralegal sector - offering membership and bespoke nationally recognised paralegal qualifications - fully qualified and experienced paralegals with a NALP Licence to Practise (and PII) can fill the gap. They can offer such consumers assistance at a cost that is acceptable. Solicitors, you have nothing to fear from paralegals. You can still rely on the reserved activities which protect your monopoly on those relevant activities and the ‘holding-out’ principles which protect you against anyone referring to themselves either explicitly or by inference as being a solicitor. We should work together in a spirit of co-operation and understanding if not for our own benefit, then for the benefit of all consumers. Only when there is a clear understanding between solicitors and paralegal practitioners can we be totally transparent with consumers.
is the Chief Executive of the National Association of Licenced Paralegals (NALP).
Big bang versus baby steps
Our resident Tech columnist Charles Christian writes… top me if you’ve heard this one before – and you probably have it before because history has a tendency to repeat itself when it comes to law firm innovation
Far too many firms embark upon way too grandiose and ambitious business transformation and change management projects that go well beyond their capabilities, are saddled with unrealistic expectations from the outset, and distract the practice and its people from its core business activity of earning fees from the provision of legal services to clients. It’s easy to point the finger of blame after the crash. The usual suspects include: partner egos, a failure to appreciate that being good at law doesn’t automatically equate to also being good at business finance, believing what consultants and ‘futurists’ tell them, and the pursuit of the sexy ‘new, new thing’ rather than ‘sticking to your knitting’. In the last example, it used to be that every high street law firm aspired to be a commercial practice or boutique City firm, whereas today it seems everyone wants to be a ‘lawtech startup’.
“Rather than opting for the dramatic Big Bang approach, firms should find an incremental approach – taking baby steps if you like – is a more practical and ultimately more rewarding option.”
a machine. For this reason, rather than opting for the dramatic Big Bang approach, firms should find an incremental approach – taking baby steps if you like – is a more practical and ultimately more rewarding option. For example, back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, when personal computers first started appearing in large numbers on lawyers’ desks, there was a belief that ‘if you could just get lawyers to do their own typing’ a firm would be able to drastically cut secretarial numbers and back-office overheads, improve fee earner-tosupport staff ratios, and boost profit margins. Perfectly reasonable ambitions and the advent of speech recognition technology – in the mid1990’s – seemed to further put these objectives within easy reach. Except for the fact that the early speech recognition software didn’t work – and the whole assumption was based on a misunderstanding of what lawyers and secretaries actually did for a living.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against innovation. Doing things the way you’ve always done them before is not a safe option; it’s a recipe for stagnation and being left behind. Everyone needs to reinvent themselves from time-to-time… but in a measured, credible, realistic way.
Instead, along came another far less sexy technical innovation – digital dictation – which brought tape/analogue dictation into the modern age, improved transcription efficiency, and freed firms from such back-office overheads of temps, ‘floaters’, and overtime. As it pretty much allowed fee earners to continue to do what they’d always been doing, it turned into ‘the’ law office technology success story of the late Nineties and the Noughties – and it still didn’t require lawyers to do their own typing!
What seems to be the stumbling block – and now I’m focusing more upon the tech aspects inevitably associated with any modern business transformation project – is the perception that only viable approach is that of an all-or-nothing ‘Big Bang’. In other words someone arbitrarily sets a date, after which everything will change: new computer systems, new ways of working, a whole new world.
Along with digital dictation… document management, case management, and time recording systems have all proved to be significant enhancers of fee earner efficiency, productivity, and profitability whereas more glamorous ‘big ticket’ projects, such as BPR (business process re-engineering) and knowledge management have proved to be costly failures.
Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t work this way and law firms are inherently ‘people systems’. You cannot treat partners, fee earners and support staff as inanimate cogs in
is the Founder of the Legal IT Insider newsletter and talks about tech and geek stuff on Twitter at @ChristianUncut
So ‘yes’ by all means have ambitions for your firm but just take into account that you may be able to achieve these far less painfully by taking baby steps.
Proclaim encompasses Practice, Case and Matter Management software, and is endorsed by the Law Society.
25,000 people can’t be wrong
Contact us for a demonstration
01274 704 100 www.eclipselegal.co.uk
Harvey Howell Solicitors selects Eclipse’s Proclaim Practice Management system to aid with a rapidly expanding client base Young North West firm, Harvey Howell Solicitors, is implementing the Law Society Endorsed Proclaim Practice Management Software solution from Eclipse Legal Systems, the UK’s leading legal software provider. Harvey Howell Solicitors is a modern and professional law firm based in Liverpool. Specialising in Private Client and Family work, the team of qualified solicitors boasts extensive experience and provides a dedicated service to a range of clients, from police federations and hospitals through to local and national charities and palliative care teams. Eclipse will implement its Proclaim Case Management Software solution firm-wide, serving to eliminate duplicate data entry and enhance case progression.
Much of the work carried out at Harvey Howell Solicitors is administrative, painstaking in character and necessitates heavy document production. Where previously these processes were handled manually, staff will now benefit from Proclaim’s fast and effortless document production. At the start of a case all relevant letters and forms will be generated automatically via a single mouse click, saving the team hours of administrative work. Additionally, Proclaim’s feature-rich financial accounting and practice management toolset will provide an overview of the firm’s operations, as well as a comprehensive set of reports, ranging from fee earner analysis to monthly budgets.
Gareth Howell, Chief Executive at Harvey Howell Solicitors, said: “We pride ourselves on providing a dedicated and professional service and as our client base is continually expanding, it became apparent our manual system was no longer fit for purpose. “We want to spend our time giving closely trusted specialist advice to our clients at the best possible value, and once implemented, Proclaim will allow us to concentrate on these important aspects, whilst keeping our administrative costs to a minimum.”
For further information, please contact
Marketing Director at Eclipse Legal Systems, part of Capita plc, via email@example.com or call 01274 704100. Alternatively, visit www.eclipselegal.co.uk
FIVE GOOD REASONS L
ee Rennie, Melu Chat, offers law firms five good reasons to transform their business and digital business development using Live Chat.
A modern law firm will have realised that having a website is hugely important to their business. However, having a website without any visitors doesn’t work - so they spend money on search engine optimisation and pay per click advertising to get traffic. Now they have a website which is getting decent levels of traffic every month. Job done? Is the phone ringing off the hook? Probably not. This is where Live Chat can help law firm’s transform and bring digital space and communications into the next phase, while solving a number of problems that many of them face online: 1. The conversion rate of site visitors to site sales is lower than my competitor (yes, the one with Live Chat). Imagine you walk into two DIY shops. One without a customer service assistant, the other with. You want to buy something and have questions about it. Shop number one (without the assistant) has the item, which reads, ‘For more product information, call this number’. Dreading being put on hold before finally getting to speak to someone who reads out what you just read on the box, you don’t buy. To shop number two, you’re greeted with a knowledgeable person and a proactive ‘Can I help?’, instantly placing you with an expert who can provide the information & advice you need in real time and yes, you buy. Are websites different to physical shops in this context? They are not. 2. I’m losing customers because we can’t provide resolutions as quickly as our competitors (yes, the ones with Live Chat).
Imagine you see a ‘contact us’ link on a website. Fill in your name, fill in your email address, fill in your query before the glorious send button mercifully reveals itself. Now wait for a response for however long your patience lasts which is likely less than the amount of time it takes to start using a company that has Live Chat. 3. My reception is always kept busy with sales calls and clients asking simple questions, all the while they’re trying to welcome new and existing customers into the office. Firms using Live Chat can handle most of that online, saving their reception staff a lot of time and allowing them to focus on people coming into the office. Their Live Chat can be likened to an ‘online reception’. 4. My competitors (yes, our friends with Live Chat, again) seem to have greater levels of data-driven intelligence on their customers than we do. Of course they do. Live Chat provides invaluable insights into buyer behaviour, locations, feedback and a great deal more. What are the busiest times for your website? Which site customers are frequently visiting but never buying? What keywords are customers using? In short, how can you become an effective data-driven organisation & respond
“Those firms looking to change and be more engaging and accessible need to consider live chat and the benefits it brings - as well as consider the internal management of that and the ‘change’ it brings.”
accordingly to the right trends? Through Live Chat, that’s how. 5. Let’s finish on a quick one: go and visit 10 websites and see how many of them have a Live Chat function. At this point in time, it’s (according to statistics) likely to be around 5-10% of them. This is a problem for them and it’s a problem for their customers, it doesn’t have to be either for you. Those firms looking to change and be more engaging and accessible need to consider live chat and the benefits it brings - as well as consider the internal management of that and the ‘change’ it brings. Of course, managing Live Chat can be an issue for many law firms. Hiring a full time employee to do it isn’t practical either. This is where a managed Live Chat service such as Melu can help. By having Live Chat you’re offering your customers an instant, engaging and convenient experience alongside lower costs, higher competitive advantage, higher sales, increased retention, increased satisfaction, increased customer advocacy and a far better business. In other words, you’re offering an awful lot of solutions to an awful lot of problems.
is the Director at Melu Chat.
10 MINS WITH
STEPHEN WARD did you expect the legal services sector to change so drastically when you started Q working in it? No! Historically the profession has stayed the same for a very long time. We all recognise A the slow and gradual pace in the sector and
completely reworked every aspect of the work we undertook in the clerks’ room. He looked at what we were doing and how we could use this new computer to help us work smarter. Being a junior clerk (joining pretty much the day the first computer arrived), this experience really shaped my future. We still ask ourselves the same thing every day in Clerksroom: ‘how can we make things easier?’
its conservative attitude to risk. Even with the advent of computers and email, things were slow to change but, almost coinciding with the Legal Services Act, the technological world has exploded and impacted the business of law.
In terms of the world of communications - from smart phones offering free video conferencing to enabling your emails to follow you - everything now works online. The banks are encouraging you to bank online and are closing hundreds of branches; HMRC is also now entirely online. It would be bizarre if the legal sector didn’t follow suit in some ways. It has to – life has changed.
Q believe it’s the commonality of API programming interface AI(application
What has been the most transformation element affecting the business of law?
Technology). My car now talks to the Internet, which then talks to my garage and back to the app on my phone. We all benefit from common APIs to join up the various things our lives. I don’t think the law has changed but the way we live our lives has changed. This has a two-sided impact on legal businesses: in terms of how you manage and interact with clients and how you deal with and manage your life – your employees lives too. How we run our marketing and call management to accessing data and generating new business, it’s all changed. Common APIs allow us to revolutionise how we work and streamline everything that we do, in an instant. Pandora’s box has opened and the opportunities are limitless.
have you had a mentor? If so, what was the most valuable piece of advice given Q to you?
“Common APIs allow us to revolutionise how we work and streamline everything that we do, in an instant. Pandora’ box has opened and the opportunities are limitless.”
QWho inspires you and why? Nick Salt, the Senior Clerk at 3 Serjeants’ Inn Chambers (when I worked there) inspired me A from day one; he was always trying to look at
Yes, but outside of the profession. I have a business coach mentor in John McCarthy. A Being able to talk to someone about ‘business’
rather than law has been transformational to us The best piece of advice I’ve ever had is to ‘keep learning’. Until I met John around three years ago, I had stopped learning when I left school (beyond computers and about the job). One of the things John taught me is that when you have a lack of skill or knowledge, you go and learn it. When there’s something I don’t understand, I now go and learn it. Harry Hodgkin, my business partner, and I work very closely and also learn together. We’ve shared advice and supported each other since we established Clerksroom over 16 years ago and our business and our relationship has been the greater for it.
weren’t in your current position, you be doing? QIfwhatyouwould other businesses to do what we’ve done – from a lovely beach in New Zealand! AHelping
how we could do things easier. He oversaw the implementation of chambers’ first ever computer over 30 years ago. Nick totally embraced it and
is the Managing Director of Clerksroom & Clerksroom Direct
Instant legal indemnity cover Residential self-issue policies - online and paper pack Wide-ranging cover at low premiums
Covering all key risks including: - Planning and building regulations - Search insurance - Restrictive covenant - Missing information and possessory title - Lack of easement - Insolvency act
Online Pack Bespoke
www.CRMInsurance.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org 020 7256 3847
25,000 people can’t be wrong
Eclipse’s Proclaim system is the solution of choice for 25,000 legal professionals in over 1,000 organisations. Proclaim encompasses Practice, Case and Matter Management, and is endorsed by the Law Society. From new start-ups to industry heavyweights, Proclaim is the system of choice for forward-thinking law firms. • Fully integrated Practice Management Software solution • End-to-end case and matter management workflow processes • Ready-to-go workflows for specific practice areas • SAR-compliant legal accounting • Fast to implement, easy to use
Contact us for a demonstration
01274 704 100 Email: email@example.com