Buying legal software Mahesh Patel’s way27/09/23
Learnings from our ‘How to buy legal software: the must dos and don’ts’ webinar
During our 24th May webinar, hosted by Quill’s Managing Director Tom Wormald and Regional Sales Consultant Jo Poole, Mahesh Patel from Stenfield Solicitors shared his recent experiences of navigating the software buying process and choosing Quill.
Here’s a handy summary of the main criteria to bear in mind and vital questions to ask prospective software suppliers when making one of the most profound decisions of your professional career…
Set the scene. Tell us about Stenfield Solicitors
I founded Stenfield in 2004 as a London-based multi-disciplinary practice. In 2016, I was joined by Alpesh Patel and opened a branch in Norwich. Between us, Alpesh and I have 50 years’ sector experience. Coupled with our fee earning team, we’re able to offer a comprehensive range of services to national and international clients from our twin-site business.
Why did Stenfield move into the software buying scene?
In technology terms, I’d describe myself as an early adopter, having used practice management and legal accounting systems since the 1990s in their rudimentary forms. Covid highlighted some serious limitations with our pre-Quill system, primarily relating to speed issues dialling in remotely and uploading files.
While our software search was focused on making our business more efficient day-to-day, when we started researching the marketplace, other background troubles moved into the foreground, namely scalability, support and cost. While we mainly sought to address the requirement for a web-based rather than on-premise application, it was an opportunity to resolve all our software niggles at once. The quest for a replacement system began in earnest.
One of the first stages in procurement is engaging your internal stakeholders and conducting a thorough review of current positioning to inform next steps. Did you embrace this philosophy?
Initially, the two co-directors – that’s me and Alpesh – decided change was imperative. We then consulted internally by asking our fee earners and support staff for their feedback on our incumbent system and wish lists for our replacement software.
As a rule, fee earners don’t like change, however, they were dissatisfied with what we had. As such, employees were responsive to change and forthcoming about their requests in equal measure.
Quill’s ‘Legal Practice Management Software Buyer’s Guide’ was invaluable in drilling into our pain points, identifying role-specific concerns and formulating pertinent questions to progress along the buying journey.
With so many flavours of similar software from so many seemingly similar suppliers, how did you locate and choose your vendor?
Quill correctly describes the legal technology space as a minefield to navigate. Our first port of call was the Law Society recommended software suppliers list. We devised a long-list of five providers, whittled down to a shortlist of two based on three not having integrated accounts modules designed for law firms, saw demonstrations of the two viable options and selected Quill.
Another prized Quill resource is its ‘Legal Practice Management Software Scoping Checklist’ to begin productive dialogues with software houses, steer sales personnel away from their script and narrow down your search with pinpoint precision. This document became our ally.
Essentially, the MyQuill solution ticked all the right boxes, both functionality wise and support related. We now have the tools we need to manage matters and accounts with ease, backed by insightful financial information to manage our successful and growing business, at a cost that better suits our budget.
Much can go wrong during negotiations. How did you avoid the common mistakes law firms have a tendency to make when negotiating?
You’d imagine lawyers are cautious and careful when signing contracts. The opposite is true. It’s not unusual for solicitors to fall into the trap of being rushed into making a hasty decision and signing an ill-fitting finance agreement which they later come to regret.
Own the process by working to your timescales, double checking the terms and conditions, keeping your eyes wide open and, even, thinking about the future by knowing your exit strategy before you enter into the new partnership.
Trusted and reputable suppliers will be happy to give you complete visibility and sufficient time to make an informed decision as well as answer every query you throw their way.
What closing advice would you give to those embarking upon a software swap-out project?
Use all resources at your disposal, not just Quill’s ‘Buyer’s Guide’ and ‘Scoping Checklist’, but also your people, knowledge and experience – the combination of which is extremely powerful throughout the decision making and change management phases.
Look at Quill and its MyQuill solution. A 45-year history, 11,000 users, raft of online reviews, rich-yet-simple functionality, complete practice management system created especially for law firms can’t be wrong. We stand by our decision to go with Quill. We’re sure you would too.
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