Walker Foster operates from offices across West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Lancashire, and prides itself on its reputation as a leading, local firm of expert solicitors. With an objective to provide clients with high quality and value-for-money legal services, fee earners strive to achieve pragmatic solutions to all client requirements.
The firm recently replaced its incumbent system with Access Legal’s Practice Management Software solution, and rolled it out to 50 staff across its Conveyancing and Probate departments.
Walker Foster’s Managing Partner, Keith Hardington (pictured), spoke to Access about the firm’s choice in legal software, the implementation process, and how staff are benefiting from a fully centralised system.
Having looked at our practice as a whole and our plans for the future, it became clear to us that our demands had changed since our initial decision to implement a practice management system.
The law – and as a result, our firm – is constantly evolving, so we needed a reliable and robust legal software solution that would scale with us, and one that possessed the capabilities to streamline our processes to allow us to gain efficiency and reduce costs.
We had always been aware of Access Legal via its presence within the legal market, so we knew it would be included in our selection process.
As expected for an established firm, we were quite rigorous within our initial research period, and as part of this, spoke to a number of other firms – many of which referred us to Access, which reinforced what we already knew.
Interestingly, it was our staff that chose Access Legal. Our management team wanted to form a working group of fee earners and support staff, as they would be the ones to use the system on a daily basis, and therefore were best placed to make the decision.
After looking at a number of providers – including the system we were using at the time – Access Legal was chosen for a range of factors, namely for its flexibility across the board but specifically in regards to amending documents; its ability to improve our processes firm-wide; and the fact that it would enable us to digitise everything possible!
We’ve built a good relationship with the Support team over the last few months – mainly because, as with anything new, we’ve been getting used to the system and finding out the full scope of what it can do! Our experience with the team has been great, and we’re happy in the knowledge that we have them on the other end of the phone should we need anything.
In addition to the Support team, we’ve found our dedicated Relationship Manager to be absolutely excellent. She’s visited our offices at request and ensures we are getting the best from our system, in addition to answering any queries we might have – that personal service is a fantastic addition to Access Legal’s support portfolio.
The overriding benefit for us is the elimination of paper usage. Prior to Access Legal we were a very paper-heavy practice which necessitated numerous files and filing cabinets by way of organisation. Following the implementation of Access Legal, we’re seeing significant savings on paper, postage, ink and printing, and we’re now able to offer our clients a greatly reduced turnaround time!
Access Legal is also helping us to enhance our risk management strategy throughout the firm. In our line of work, more often than not mistakes made by law firms come from a process going wrong somewhere down the line, as a result of incorrectly set up case management software. Thanks to Access Legal’s extremely capable workflows and high-level automation, it means steps are taken to reduce risks, but with minimal input from our staff.
Essentially, we couldn’t work the way we do now without Access Legal!
It’s great – we initially took Access’ off-the-shelf package, but thanks to the configurable dashboard, we were able to develop it to display KPIs bespoke to Walker Foster.
Unusually for a law firm, we didn’t actually set targets until recently, but the staff absolutely love it.
The KPI toolset itself is proving to be a fantastic visual aid and a great motivational tool for our fee earners, who now know what they’re trying to achieve month by month, and what they need to do to get there.
It’s also great for management as it provides us with an overview of practice performance. The viewing options allow us to drill down into any statistic, and for specific fee earners, teams, or all staff, which in turn enables complete transparency. Taking this further, we can also view the values for a particular month, week or day, as well as make comparisons against previous targets, serving to boost efficiency across all of our practices.
The scope of data and range of capabilities to us is incredible – so much so that we are still discovering just how powerful the system is, and how much more we can get from it.
Obviously our key purpose is to operate as efficiently as we can, not only to ensure streamlined processes internally, but to pass on these efficiencies to our clients. With Access Legal we now have the opportunity to do this – and it’s something we could not have achieved using our incumbent software solution.
It’s still early days with Access Legal, but we’re thoroughly impressed with the scope of it, and as a result of Access’ competency, professionalism and expertise, we have the confidence to know that, when we’re ready, we can seamlessly integrate some of the complementary toolsets and that they will enhance our processes and service offering further.