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I spent 20 years in tech and from looking around and talking to people, I realised how poorly the legal industry was served by software providers.
I believe that all aspects of any service delivery can be improved by tech. That’s why we’re tech first and always have been.
It’s not a golden bullet but if it’s the right tech used at the right time and by the right people then it can significantly reduce the time and effort required by lawyers and that’s got to be a good thing.
All our work comes from referrals and recommendations and the first thing potential clients receive is an introductory phone call from our sales team to talk them through the process.
We send out quotes as a link in an email and people can confirm online if they wish to proceed. If they do want to go ahead, the sales team will make the relevant forms available on the portal. Once they have filled in all the paperwork, the client is sent a message to say we have been instructed and then all parties such as the estate agent and mortgage broker are notified.
Clients will receive a first phone call from the lawyer introducing themselves. If they want to call us after that they can, but even in the early days we found that most people don’t. When given the option of logging into the portal at their convenience to check on the progress of their case, that’s what most of our clients choose. Very occasionally, probably every two to three months, we get someone saying they only use paper and in those cases we would politely suggest that they try a different firm.
That’s not to say that everything’s changed – we still take the business of law very seriously. We have deliberately split up the process, so we have a team for sales, a team for marketing, a team for IT etc, so our lawyers are freed up to focus on doing what they do best, managing cases from instruction to completion. We believe this gives us shorter turnaround times than many of our competitors. We can also give clients a reasonable idea of how long everything is going to take. It’s not an exact science, but we analyse all our cases and use statistical modelling to estimate timeframes.
We use a third-party software company for all our data requirements such as property searches, but our own tech, developed in-house, does everything else. Although there are many other products on the market, we’ve not found any that add true additional value.
In July 2020, we completed the first completely electronic transfer of deeds. The client electronically signed the transfer from their mobile phone then the witness signed it on theirs. That was a real ‘pinch me’ moment. I have it framed on the wall in my office. Although exciting from a technology perspective, the last 18 months have definitely been a challenge. We’re seeing a real skills shortage in the industry at the moment and while we’re committed to investing in training and development, I do believe technology can and will help plug that gap. It’s not rocket science, but it is about having confidence.
Law firms will resist and say they don’t have time to embed technology into their businesses, but that’s a mistake because the truth is if they want to survive, they simply don’t have a choice.
I can appreciate that it might be daunting for law firm owners, particularly those without a tech background or someone in-house to advise them, but asking regulators for their assistance is a good place to start. I initially chose the CLC because they were the only regulator to enable me, as a non- lawyer, to set up the business at that time, but they have been very supportive.