When severe weather strikes the UK, our transport network has a predictable tendency to grind to a halt. Roads become impassable, airport runways too dangerous for planes to land or take off and railways unsafe for travelling trains. As a result, businesses suffer because staff and clients alike cannot journey to the office.
With its head office situated on the southern edge of the Peak District, Niche Law Firm of the Year 2013, Nigel Davis Solicitors faced extreme travel disruption during that same year’s onslaught of snow.
Oliver Wilson, Director at Nigel Davis Solicitors, explains how “many of our staff live in fairly remote locations, so the snow and blizzard conditions meant that, for them, gaining access to the office was impossible for days on end”.
Typically, in such circumstances, companies can be forced to either operate on skeleton staff or close for business entirely until the arrival of milder weather and clear roads. However, as a Quill client using the Pinpoint outsourced legal cashiering service and Interactive cloud-hosted legal accounting software, lawyers and support staff at Nigel Davis Solicitors were able to simply log-in and continue working from home.
“We’re not a traditional high street practice sitting in a city centre”, says Oliver. “50% of our clients are local and the other 50% are nationally based. They too were affected by network chaos but, nevertheless, legal cases don’t stop and contracts don’t change their completion date just because the country’s suffering from bad weather. The Quill solutions have fully secure internet access which allows us to work and attend client meetings in an online capacity”.
The move to full outsourced legal accounts support with hosted software happened in 2009 following a 360 Legal Group event where Quill was exhibiting. Previously, the firm employed an in-house cashier using the local installation Quill software.
“Discussions at the Quill exhibition stand introduced us to the Pinpoint service”, adds Oliver. “Later, we compared the monthly cost of outsourcing in comparison to the cost of a full time cashier and decided to switch”.
As advocates of outsourcing, Nigel Davis Solicitors outsources additional business functions for telephony, dictation and compliance support.
“When you’re doing complex administrative tasks in house, there are always concerns about those tasks being performed to current standards and in a fully compliant way”, states Oliver. “The obligation to ensure that administration staff are kept fully up to date and trained is both unavoidable and expensive. The responsibility for staying up to date with the SRA Accounts Rules and keeping our accounts compliant is huge. The Rules constantly change and keeping up with them is a huge distraction from our principal business of delivering bespoke legal services to our clients. When a novel problem arises, as often happens, the downtime researching and addressing how to deal with that situation can be lengthy.
“Instead, for us, Quill is entrusted with that responsibility. By outsourcing to Quill we tap into its recognised, and certified, expertise, and we can have complete confidence that a thorough job is being done. Compliance is another ongoing worry. But with Quill, we receive our monthly anomaly reports which make meeting our obligations quick and simple. This is a massive help to our COFA”.
Equally important to Nigel Davis Solicitors is the facility for online working.
“We’re a two-site practice with a main office near Ashbourne and a satellite office in Uttoxeter”, clarifies Oliver. “We also have fee earners regularly working remotely and from home, fitting work around client needs and other commitments. Because of our set up, hosted software is the best option. It links our offices and remote workers through a secure internet-accessed interface to all our time recording and client account information.
“The internet link gives our management team the facility to transact remotely too and our support staff have easy access to case files. The hosted interface is superlative. Everyone can view and interact with files simultaneously”.
Nigel Davis Solicitors has recently further enhanced its IT infrastructure by migrating to a ‘thin client’ system.
“We changed to thin client so we would have no programs running on individual desktops”, concludes Oliver. “We’ll access the Microsoft Office suite and email system via a secure internet link for even more remote working capabilities. The Quill software works perfectly with thin client. It completes the set”.