Established in 1997, Hudgell Solicitors has been in business over 20 years, and has forged its way to become one of the top 150 law firms in the UK.
Specialising in all aspects of personal injury law, from medical negligence and road traffic accidents, through to civil liberties and illness abroad, Hudgell Solicitors is able to provide nationwide legal advice and services to clients from its offices in Hull, Leeds and London.
The firm has seen rapid expansion over the years, now employing a team of over 100 staff, and provides an unrivalled compensation claims service.
Following the success of the firm, and its recent celebration of two decades in business, we spoke with Steven Hinchcliffe (IT Executive) on Hudgell Solicitors’ use of Access Legal case management software and how it’s aided the firm in its expansion since 2007.
The longevity of our relationship with Access speaks volumes, and for us specifically, one of the main reasons for this has been due to the level of customisation available within Access Legal's case management software. We haven’t needed to look elsewhere for a practice management system because Access Legal was built to suit the changing needs of the legal sector, and has continued to do so over the years.
Access Legal has also given us the ability to analyse our data much more forensically in order to drive our performance as a firm over the years, and as such we’ve been able to identify key areas for improvement, which means we are able to continuously enhance our already high levels of customer care.
We initially took the out-of-the-box personal injury case management system. It’s such a comprehensive solution, and has truly been built with law firms in mind, so much so that we’ve only had to make adjustments to suit our firm-specific requirements – for example, we’ve reorganised screens, and made changes to the costs and disbursements process.
Essentially, the system is shaped around our day-to-day procedures and it fully supports our service offering, but it’s also able to adapt to the wider legal industry. The personal injury sector in particular is extremely dynamic and constantly changing – it’s a testament to Access and the strength of Access Legal's case management that it has been able to keep up effortlessly.
We’ve grown considerably over the last 20 years, and have recently expanded into new offices across Hull, Leeds and London. As such an ambitious firm, the ability to grow both organically and through acquisition has always been very important to us and thanks to Access Legal’s inherent scalability, we’re able to achieve this goal seamlessly.
It’s also important to note how much Access and Access Legal's case management software has changed over the years. Access is constantly introducing new capabilities, features and toolsets, all of which are aimed at streamlining processes as much as possible.
As an example, when we initially implemented Access Legal's Proclaim back in 2007, one of our aims was to become paper free, and although that will always prove a difficult task for law firms, thanks to Access' innovation and Proclaim’s capabilities, we’ve made significant steps towards paperless operations.
Taking this further, the fact that we’ve been able to streamline all of our processes with the click of a mouse – from scanning medical reports into Access Legal through to document production – has increased the speed of case progression.
For a firm of our size, reports play a crucial role in providing transparency for all of the teams.
We tend to use Access Legal’s MIWH (Management Information Warehouse) for its reporting facilities for a truly detailed analysis and it allows us to drill down into statistics of our choice. It also means we can schedule reports to be run in real-time, and without interrupting processes that may already be taking place within Access Legal.
For the most part, using the MIWH for its reporting functionality means that the management team has a holistic view of the firm in terms of productivity and general operations, readily available to further drill down into should they wish – including statistics on specific teams or fee earners, as well as comparisons of targets. Additionally, our marketing team makes good use of the daily reporting facilities in order to provide a comprehensive overview of incoming enquiries, new clients and the ROI we’re receiving from Access Legal. Without it we’d have to do all of these reports manually, and that wold have huge time and cost implications!
One of the great things about Access Legal is that it’s widely used throughout the industry so as a result, we find that many of our business partners also use the system. With the capabilities that come with Access Legal, it means we can benefit from a kind of ‘virtual contact’ with our business partners, and significantly reduce paper usage whilst increasing the speed of service and remaining secure.
This is also true for our clients as we’ve implemented Access Legal’s online document delivery and acceptance tool, SecureDocs, and this has proven vital in enhancing our client onboarding process as it’s all done with the click of a button. It’s meant we can be instructed within a matter of minutes, but it’s also gone a long way towards our goal of operating as a paper free firm, whilst providing our clients with peace of mind. We now offer a completely secure, yet transparent service, allowing clients access to action important documents, whilst increasing the speed of case progression.
For our business partners, we often use Access Legal’s exporting abilities to share files. Where we previously had to export individual history lines, we’ve now sped up this process greatly because we are able to export and send files with the click of a mouse. Further, the ‘zip’ feature within Access Legal’s workflow toolset enables us to send one large file, rather than numerous documents.
Essentially, Access Legal has saved us hours that would have been spent completing time-sapping tasks, and continues to increase our efficiencies!
Very well – we’ve been an Access client now for a decade so that in itself goes to show Access Legal’s suitability!
Importantly for us, Access recognises the ongoing need to develop Access Legal in order to continually drive efficiencies, and thanks to the intuitiveness of the system, we’re more than confident in its ability to effortlessly adapt to the changing needs of the legal sector, and Hudgell Solicitors.