Case Study: Bridge McFarland Logo Case Study: Bridge McFarland

USERS & SHAPERS OF LAWFUSION SINCE 1994

“Lexcel standards are a breeze with LAWFUSION
and its flexible workflow functionality has enabled
us to become leaders in our local markets.”

Stephen Oldridge, Partner, Bridge McFarland

ABOUT BRIDGE MCFARLAND

Bridge McFarland is a leading regional law firm with 7 offices across Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire. The firm is recognised for its strength and depth across the diverse range of legal services it offers to both private and commercial clients.

The firm’s roots go back to Keeble Hawson Bridge and Co and McFarland and Co in the 1970s. Both flourished independently until they merged in 1990 to become Bridge McFarland Solicitors. Following a string of further mergers, the firm now has offices in Grimsby, Hull, Lincoln, Louth, Mablethorpe, Market Rasen, Skegness and London and is considered one of the largest law firms in the region.

This top 250 Practice employs in the region of 190 people across its eight branches and has been using Select Legal Systems’ specialist legal case and practice management software, LAWFUSION, since 1994.

BACKGROUND

Bridge McFarland converted, in 1994, from the old AIM (now IRIS) Charter II system to Select’s early UNIX based LAWFUSION system. Then in 1998 Select launched a new and wholly revamped, fully integrated, Microsoft Windows version of their flagship software and as a result of the true business partnership that existed between the two organisations, Bridge McFarland were keen to embrace it having worked closely with Select to shape it. Helen Powers, IT Manager for Bridge McFarland told us,Select welcomes and encourages its users to be a driving force in the development of LAWFUSION via a very efficient, two-way, enhancement programme. Select believes, and we agree, that users are the best source of information. Select’s first-class knowledge of legal IT and their willingness to listen and involve us has been a big plus for us and probably why we have been so happy as Select clients for so long. There is great deal of respect between our two organisations going both ways.”

LAWFUSION – A FLEXIBLE, INTUITIVE BLANK CANVAS

Bridge McFarland has the full suite of LAWFUSION case and practice management software in place across the firm, including everything from its popular fee earner desktop, accounts and time recording to marketing and case management charts for conveyancing, personal injury, clinical negligence, child care, private client and dispute resolution.

Select’s Directors put 4 key promises at the heart of LAWFUSION development:

  1. Flexible software
  2. Intuitive software
  3. Outstanding Support
  4. Excellent Value For Money

LAWFUSION provides a blank canvas for firms wishing to develop their own charts to suit their fee earners individual ways of working. But a large library of proven workflow charts are available from Select, off the shelf, that can be used as they are or as a starting point to be developed further in-house.

CONVEYANCING

Conveyancing was the first department to implement case management workflow charts back in 2000 and is the firm’s most established workflow area. The case management software for conveyancing has been developed and fine tuned over many years. As a department they chose to develop their own charts.

The software gives all fee earners across a firm the freedom to work how they want to work. You often find that fee earners delivering services in the same area of law tend to have their own, individual preferred working practises. LAWFUSION allows for this. Stephen Oldridge, a partner at Bridge McFarland , told us, “LAWFUSION allows our fee earners, to work exactly as they prefer to work. LAWFUSION gives them the flexibility to run their files their way. Some conveyancers prefer to let their assistants run the case through LAWFUSION whilst they simply oversee the work produced. Others work in a more traditional manner directing their assistants about which stages to progress. Others do a mixture of the two. All scenarios are acceptable to me as I know LAWFUSION automatically enforces our quality standards throughout. So with LAWFUSION everyone is happy.

In terms of the recession, there is no doubt it has been a difficult time for conveyancing. That said, LAWFUSION has, through a combination of its document assembly tools and our powerful conveyancing sale chart, allowed us to become leaders in our local markets. No matter what is thrown at us, we can handle it in LAWFUSION. Home Information Packs, is a great example of something that was thrust upon us by the market. Of course it has been and gone but through LAWFUSION we were able to deal with it very easily without incurring any significant additional cost.”

PRIVATE CLIENT WORK

Jacqui Johnson, private client partner at Bridge McFarland, works mainly on wills, probate, trust work, powers of attorney, Court of Protection applications and tax planning. Her department has had a probate chart in place for some time and Jacqui has been involved in tweaking and fine tuning it. But more recently she and colleagues have been instrumental in developing a new chart, for Lasting Powers of Attorney. She told us, “I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was like a giant logic puzzle. We started with one question and depending on answer A or B the workflow led to another series of questions. A consultant from Select came to work with us on it for a couple of days. Now it is up and running it certainly makes our lives easier. It now takes 30 minutes to run this chart saving what was around 2 hours worth of work. It handles automatic production of everything from the initial letter of advice to the back up forms for registering the LPAs etc.

In our probate chart on LAWFUSION we keep all estate details together. i.e. the executors, the legatees and the beneficiaries. LAWFUSION gives an interactive list of all involved in the main case screen, with their respective amounts of inheritance, making it very unlikely that anyone will be overlooked. The production of the standard letters and inheritance tax forms is also a huge time saver.”

IT’S ALL ABOUT BUY-IN

IT Manager, Helen Powers champions workflow within the firm helping departments at different levels of competence to develop charts. She said, I worked with the Dispute Resolution team and I am currently working with Clinical Negligence to create a chart. I introduced Child Care and Employment to a generic chart to get them used to the concept of workflow. This was a good way of getting them to think about how they wanted their own chart to work. Child Care now have their own chart and one for Employment is in progress. They tend to very quickly realise its capabilities and flexibility as a blank canvas. It’s all about ‘buy-in’.

LEXCEL IS A BREEZE

Lexcel is the Law Society’s international practice management standard. It is a scheme for any type of practice to certify that certain standards have been met following independent assessment. It is only awarded to solicitors who meet the highest management and customer care standards. To achieve accreditation practices undergo rigorous independent assessment every year to ensure they meet required standards of excellence in areas such as client care, case management and risk management. Accreditation is valid for 3 years with annual monitoring visits. Select Legal has very much aligned the LAWFUSION software to Lexcel criteria.

Stephen Oldridge told us, Lexcel is a breeze with LAWFUSION. Everything has been thought through and is set up to happen automatically. This is a major benefit for us right across the firm.”

CS_BMcF

LAWFUSION BRINGS VALUE TO ALL AREAS OF THE BUSINESS

Helen Powers concluded, “LAWFUSION is an excellent all round Practice and Case Management tool that brings value to all the areas of the business from accounts to all of our fee earning departments. As we have grown as a firm, LAWFUSION has grown with us.”

DEVELOPED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH FIRST-CLASS LAW FIRMS FOR FIRST-CLASS LAW FIRMS

Over the years, Select has had the privilege of working with many first-class law firms, including Bridge McFarland. In partnership Select has developed and fine-tuned LAWFUSION’s far-reaching functionality. Select will continue this partnership approach listening to users’ needs and keeping abreast of technological advances to deliver the most flexible, intuitive and cost effective suite of legal software it possibly can along with outstanding support.