LAWFUSION SUPPORTS WARD GETHIN ARCHER THROUGH 17 YEARS OF GROWTH
“We chose LAWFUSION because it is a flexible system that is excellent value for money. Over the years the flexibility of the system has continued to support our business as it has grown and developed.” Chris Dewey, Managing Partner, Ward Gethin Archer
ABOUT WARD GETHIN ARCHER
Ward Gethin Archer’s roots date back to the 1700s. Since 1998 when the firm implemented LAWFUSION, it has grown significantly, expanding from a 2-office operation to seven offices, increasing its workforce from 75 staff to 130 and the business has seen turnover growth of over 70%. Today from its two offices in Kings Lynn (one in the town centre and one out of town) and its branches in Dereham, Ely, Heacham, Swaffham and Watton the firm offers a full range of legal services to the communities of West Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. The firm has achieved some of its growth organically but it has also increased its size through a series of successful mergers and acquisitions.
THE INITIAL BRIEF
In the late 1990s, the Partners were looking for a system that offered legal accounts software with a fully integrated legal case management software for its conveyancing department. The Partners chose LAWFUSION because it offered all the rich functionality the more expensive systems on the market offered, but at a much more cost effective price point. Also they quickly learned that LAWFUSION had been designed to ‘grow with law firms’ and this was important in line with the Partners’ growth plans for the business.
A CHANGING BRIEF FOR LAWFUSION
Simon Adams, IT Technician for Ward Gethin Archer said, “In the 90s, when the firm looked at computer-based practice management for the first time, the partners reviewed several systems. When they chose LAWFUSION they realised we wouldn’t need all the areas of the system straight away. However, as we have grown we have found LAWFUSION offers all the functionality we need to run our business. “Over the years the brief has continued to change in a number of ways and Select Legal and LAWFUSION have always delivered. Select Legal continually enhances and expands the LAWFUSION software and the team there really do listen to what us customers want. We’ve seen a number of enhancements made following us adding suggestions to our wish list.” LAWFUSION has grown with its client in other ways. A few years ago when Ward Gethin (as the firm was then known) merged with Cambridgeshire firm, Archer and Archer, also users of LAWFUSION, Select Legal merged the two LAWFUSION systems together enabling the business to get everyone up and running with its new structure very quickly. Shortly after, Ward Gethin Archer absorbed the business and staff of Norfolk law firm W F Smith, adding a further two offices to the business. This resulted in the installation of a new ‘wide area network’ infrastructure as the firm added a number of new LAWFUSION users across the new branches.
EXPANDING THE USE OF LAWFUSION FURTHER
More recently (January 2015) Ward Gethin Archer appointed a new Head of Finance, David Snodgrass, who is keen to expand the use of LAWFUSION further. David told us, “Previously one of the Partners carried out the finance role, but the growth achieved by the firm combined with the increased statutory reporting requirements for a business of this size led to my appointment. “I can see good evidence where areas of LAWFUSION are being used extremely well across the Practice, but the software offers a whole host of extra functionality we could and should be taking advantage of. Part of my role will be to look at new ways of increasing efficiency, reducing paper and improving the way we run the business across the seven sites utilising the facilities we have got. LAWFUSION will play a key part in this. “I am looking forward to using the technology we have to bring the whole firm together because I can see many opportunities to improve efficiencies significantly, some of which will come through the use of the very user-friendly tools I have seen in LAWFUSION.”
WARD GETHIN ARCHER’S TOP FIVE
We asked Ward Gethin Archer to give us their top 5 LAWFUSION benefits:
- A system that is fully integrated David Snodgrass said, “In a nutshell, for me, LAWFUSION brings three key things together very successfully – Practice Management, Case Management and Marketing. In this era of information overload law firms tend to have so much data it actually becomes overwhelming. In my previous role I have experienced systems that were supposed to be integrated but weren’t truly so. Re-keying the same data twice is something that upsets me! With LAWFUSION data goes into the system once and we are then able to use it for a multitude of different business purposes.”
- Workable, flexible case management As Ward Gethin Archer has continued to grow the need for case management software has become more apparent.The firm uses LAWFUSION to manage its conveyancing cases, and it has brought them a number of key benefits. Adrian Long, a Partner in the Conveyancing team who spearheaded the development of the system, sums this up, “As competition in the market place continues to increase, it’s imperative that we have a system that allows us to create workflows to drive a case from beginning to end, letting us concentrate on delivering excellent, personal client service. The LAWFUSION system has enabled us to deliver.”The firm is now looking at other departments to implement case management, as part of its plans to streamline its processes.David Snodgrass added, “My previous experience of case management software has been that it can be too bespoke, and only about 10% of its functionality used.“What our fee earners like about LAWFUSION case management is that it has one core database at the heart of the system and although they like the convenience of a template structure for each area of law, the software gives us the flexibility to write our procedures the way we want them.”
- Flexible reporting for law firms LAWFUSION comes with approximately 100 standard reports and Key Performance Indicators as well as a sophisticated report writer which can be pointed at any area of the system.David Snodgrass told us, “I am used to working with report writers but I appreciate the forethought that has gone into the LAWFUSION reporting set up. I like the flexibility within the report writer to tweak and change LAWFUSION standard reports to suit our own individual practice, and the distribution of reports to relevant colleagues via the Priority Action List within LAWFUSION is something I want to implement here.”
- Compliance is taken care of David Snodgrass explained, “I will be taking on the role of COFA for the firm shortly, which means I will be responsible for ensuring the firm complies fully with the SRA Accounts Rules. It is very important we have a robust Practice Management System in place not only for our COFA requirements but also for our ISO and LEXCEL compliance commitments. The functionality and reporting available through LAWFUSION is particularly impressive in terms of compliance.”
- Quality of help and guidance notes As well as the desktop user manuals that cover all areas of the LAWFUSION system in intricate detail, Select Legal provides online support tools for its clients via a secure area on their website. This provides Windows style help text that is fully indexed and searchable covering all areas of the system, structured in short, user-friendly, self-contained topics.David Snodgrass said, “The quality of the help and guidance notes available with LAWFUSION is great, and much more accessible than in other Practice Management Systems I have used. When I search for something in LAWFUSION Help – I generally find it, and so far the notes I have used have been full and complete. To me this confirms my belief about the overall quality of Select Legal Systems and their software.”
THE FINAL WORDS
David Snodgrass sums up, “It’s important that law firms have good technology platforms to deliver their services, and get repetitive, straightforward tasks done with the minimum of fuss. We compete on quality of service and making our clients feel valued, and we need to make sure our lawyers have the time to do that. The LAWFUSION system has, and continues to give us that platform, and I am confident that it will continue to enable us to compete strongly in the ever changing market.”