Category Archives: Outsourcing

6 practice development topics you will want to read … and share with some of your colleagues.

Internet Newsletter for Lawyers, Nick Holmes, Delia VenablesThe latest issue of the Internet Newsletter from Infolaw is now published.

In this issue

  1. Continuing Practice Development – Nick Holmes explains the changes to CPD being implemented by the SRA and the BSB
  2. Data protection – David Flint of MacRoberts considers two recent developments relating to data protection and trade secrets
  3. Customer care – Mindy Gofton of I-COM looks at the potential of using chatbots for customer service
  4. IT security – Lynda Minns considers the measures independent practitioners need to take in relation to IT security
  5. Cloud-based legal software – Delia Venables describes the products from 30 suppliers offering cloud-based software for lawyers
  6. Data protection – Alex Heshmaty of Legal Words introduces the new General Data Protection Regulation

Access the Newsletter online

VIDEO: Why law firms like yours ARE moving IT to the securely hosted and pro-actively managed “Cloud”

Paul Stothard, Tees LawWe help law firms develop their use of technology, whatever that requires; always operating on the basis that IT is more about the people who use it than the technology itself; we say it’s two-thirds people and one-third technology.

Just one aspect of what we do is to help legal practices decide whether moving IT infrastructure to a secure, hosted data centre, managed pro-actively by a third party is the right move now, to free up internal IT people to focus on developing systems, training users and providing local support where it is needed.

For some firms, it is the right thing to do now; for others, it is not now and there are a wide variety of very flexible options that include “managed”, “hybrid” and “fully  hosted” solutions that ought to be considered from a number of suppliers that are established or are introducing new leading edge solutions in the legal sector.

The question we are asked most frequently is “are other firms like us really doing this?” as it’s not something lawyers talk to colleagues in other firms much about.  If you haven’t seen it, you don’t know it’s really happening, which is understandable – and there is scepticism. However, the reality is that this IS happening and it works if you choose the right supplier for you at the right time for you and manage the transition effectively.  Technology and suppliers have improved and the early days of pioneers in this area are now long over.

Back in September 2013, we provided feedback from our survey of users of hosted IT systems confirming that almost 20% of all law firms use a hosted practice management system … and that number has grown significantly since then.

Here is a good video from Paul Stothard, CEO at Tees Law, solicitors (c. 220 people) which outlines why – at the right time and in the right circumstances, and provided the transition is managed effectively to ensure that people come with you – the mid range law firms we work with are making this move.  Check it out below.

For a free discussion to begin to explore options to develop your IT systems, which may include a potential full or partial move to a managed or hosted environment, contact Frank Manning, Andrew Simmans or Allan Carton or call +44 (0)161 929 8355.

Any preliminary discussions are free and will give you valuable insights into suppliers, solutions and approaches to effective implementation.

These thoughts on transforming legal service delivery from Deloitte apply to law firms as well as in-house legal

Inside CounselAn excellent series of short articles here (parts 1, 2 and 3 in a 4 part series) from Nikhil Lala, Gail Blauer, and Michael Caplan – all from Deloitte, published in Inside Counsel; well worth reading if you head up an in-house legal team or are working with them:

As organizations have evolved and become more complex, so too have their service delivery needs for functional and business support processes. Generally speaking, service delivery transformation (SDT) seeks to help organizations in their efforts to create a flexible, scalable and efficient service delivery model — one that can enhance enterprise value by enabling cost-effective growth, supporting strong internal controls and compliance, and providing consistent global service delivery. Through SDT, organizations can evaluate the range of service delivery options — insource vs. outsource, onshore vs. offshore — to develop and execute a tailored strategy that addresses long term organizational needs.

Corporate legal departments are no exception to the SDT paradigm and, in fact, have a significant opportunity to implement such improvements to their modes of service delivery. “

If you want to discuss your plans to restructure your delivery of legal services, check us out at www.inpractice.co.uk  and call Allan Carton on +44 (0)161 929 8355 to find out more about what our approach might be in your particular circumstances.

Insights to help lawyers grow and develop a sustainable, successful practice

NatWestUseful to reflect back on these thoughts from Stephen Mayson in October 2011, which are all still very relevant to development of new business strategies for law firms.

At one of Natwest’s thought provoking “Ahead for Business” conferences for lawyers in Manchester,  Stephen Mayson helpfully defined this list of 10 full or partial “Substitutions” that are happening now (with more on the way), which impact on how legal services can and should be delivered today.  It should help to focus your mind on those areas of the current business most legal practices should be tackling pro-actively; although relatively few are yet.

80% of work handled by law firms is NOT “reserved” to solicitors (regardless of the Legal Services Act opening the doors wider to new entrants), so anyone can deliver these services if they want.  With all the options for new entrants to maximise the potential of these substitutions, I believe lawyers now have less than 3 years left to get this new mix right.

I will be incorporating these thoughts in my discussions with lawyers in the future.  By focusing on this list of “substitutions”, you can readily identify where and how your practice could be more pro-active to define your response on each count, aiming to develop the more sustainable business that everyone wants for the future.

  1. Non lawyers for lawyers
  2. IT for human beings; virtual for physical
  3. Referrers for direct client access
  4. New providers for law firms (including legal process outsourcing)
  5. External for internal
  6. Corporate structure for partnerships
  7. Professional managers for gifted amateurs
  8. Differentiated rewards for net profit
  9. Equity for debt; capital for income
  10. Brand for Reputation

Of course none of this is absolute; there is a balance to be achieved in each area that varies on each point for each practice.  Effective implementation of the right mix in response should be the main challenge for management right now.

With Stephen Mayson’s list as a good summary, are you and your colleagues focused on each of these areas of your business to make decisions about how to respond (if at all) on each of them now?

How we support law firms on business strategy >>

£500 Introductory Offer – For legal practices employing up to 50 people >>

Allan Carton

FREE Online Time Zone Converter, Global Meeting Planner and much more – really useful!

timeanddateI’m sure more and more of you find that you are are setting up and getting involved in online meetings (telephone and webconferences) with people located in a variety of time zones around the world.  Personally, these now regularly range from the east and west coasts in the US to India, Australia, South Africa and even South America – in addition to Europe and the Nordic countries.

So this little online tool has been a great point of reference in co-ordinating people at Inpractice UK – and there are a lot of other useful tools here to help with meetings across time zones and travel – all FREE, even if you register for extended tools.

Please check it out here and let me know what you think.

Allan Carton

Do you know if moving your IT to “the Cloud” would be right for you now … or not?

Hosted IT services in the CloudRead the full article by Allan Carton in the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers.  Areas covered include:

  • To go hosted or not?
  • What to host?
  • How to access?
  • Who should host?
  • Contractual negotiations
  • Successful implementation

More than 2,200 UK legal practices and ABS’s now use a hosted practice management system (PMS) with their system and data held (hosted) in a secure, remote location, accessed via the internet, in preference to keeping servers and software on-premise in their own offices. That is roughly 20 per cent of all law firms and ABS’s, adding up to more than 13,000 seats. In the small and mid-size legal practices where we operate most, legal practices and ABS’s using hosted PMS’s range from one to more than 500 users, so there are attractive options for all legal practices.

Lawyers should now be evaluating how IT changes could improve your business and cost these changes. This could be a catalyst to drive through new initiatives to enable you to get the best return from the opportunities that a move to a reliable, flexible, up to date, hosted IT platform can create.

Don’t limit your evaluation to just one supplier as they have different strengths and empathies where the difference matters in what will become a critical, intimate and (potentially) long term relationship. You want to feel sure that the inevitable issues that arise throughout that relationship will be addressed in the right way for you.

There are also new providers and new technology solutions developing all the time but an established experience of working with and understanding how lawyers operate is a significant factor – the challenging culture, the complex range of IT applications that are now critical to lawyers and the demand for interaction between products to be able to operate.

The established providers of a hosted solution have to keep pace with providers in other sectors and they must continue to develop the innovative leading edge solutions that lawyers now need to become as competitive as possible.

To explore your hosting options objectively and independently, contact Frank Manning at Inpractice UK

Help potential investors in your practice to move faster to get the deal done

Legal PracticeQuestion:  Is there really an abundance of investors keen to work with the legal sector or, have they simply failed to see enough ABS enterprise worth investing in?

Answer:  Maybe not an abundance, but there are a good number of potential investors out there looking for the right relationship.  We’re working with some of them now, where integration of legal services into their current business proposition would open up new opportunities; also investors aiming to consolidate complementary law firms, with a sound rationale behind their strategy and money to invest …  but wisely.  They also have to participate in the business to balance their risk and return pro-actively.

However, the same familiar obstacles that many firms have already faced on true mergers (as opposed to simpler acquisitions, where what the lead management team just take control) over the past few years arise in both these situations.   They are even more of a challenge where investors make assumptions based on their experience elsewhere before going into preliminary discussions with a law firm; particularly when the external investors are not already engaged in the legal sector.

Quite different perceptions on both sides about how the business has to be run robustly and by whom – roles and interests going forwards – can drag out any discussions for a very long time.  Interestingly, investors talking at the recent Modern Law Conference talked of gestation periods for deals of up to 6 years in the legal sector, when they might expect it to be 1 year in other sectors.

External investors want a role and lawyers often want to retain more control than the investors are prepared to countenance – but this can often be addressed through rational evaluation of the business strategy.  The more partners there are in the legal practice, the more difficult it can be of course to achieve commitment to the right balance; and then be sure it can be implemented effectively.  Reaching that stage takes time but it can be accelerated.

Investors are looking for the right law firms with the right leadership now to recognise the value of the investor’s management input to improve the business… not just their cash.  There is a strong case for deeper preparation at the outset and for objective facilitation of early discussions to determine quickly if any relationship has potential to be successful … or not.

Allan Carton as published in Modern Law Magazine