Wollen Michelmore is an award-winning firm of solicitors based at four locations across Devon, offering a full range of corporate, commercial and family services. Rapid growth and expansion have led the firm to work closely with ITEC and invest in innovative technology to streamline and automate key processes.
Wollen Michelmore has grown rapidly by acquisition – from one office with 45 people to four offices with 145 staff in the space of less than eight years.
In the words of Practice Director Clive Meredith:
“This growth challenged our small office thinking. We had to learn to think bigger and find ways to simplify and standardise services across multiple locations.”
In early 2016 Wollen Michelmore decided to implement a scanning solution as part of its drive to streamline processes. The firm had already invested in the SOS Connect case management tool but – without an effective way to input data into the system – felt it was only exploiting 50% of the software’s potential.
Incoming post is now scanned and fed straight into the SOS Connect case management system. To enable this change, ITEC has installed and continues to support high-speed Kodak scanners that can process 120 pages per minute double-sided.
The new solution was piloted in one office for three months and then rolled out across the company. The successful introduction of the solution has led to what Clive Meredith describes as a “paper-light” office environment.
Post arriving at each Wollen Michelmore office is scanned as soon as it arrives and delivered electronically to the appropriate fee-earner. This electronic distribution of incoming post is complete by 10am each morning, at which point fee-earners can simply drag and drop post into the case management system.
The result is that, in little more than 12 months, many time-honoured aspects of the firm’s practice have been transformed. For example, wills, probates and litigation are now entirely paper-free. Even child care – which typically involves liaison with external agencies – is handled electronically. For now, the one exception is property law, which for historical reasons continues to generate a lot of paperwork. Still, Clive Meredith estimates that 75% of the firm’s case management documentation is now paper-free.
The scanning solution has delivered significant benefits. It has de-risked the business since all documents are now backed up and encrypted. Data protection has been enhanced and client data is more secure.
Scanning has also supported the firm’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) commitments to reduce the usage and storage of paper. In fact, Wollen Michelmore used to spend thousands of pounds each year on the external storage of documents, so there have been immediate cost savings.
Fee-earners have been very positive about the change, with many remarking on how quick and easy it is to locate documents. There are no delays caused by mis-filing of paper documents, and the chore of having to stand by the copier to duplicate documents has been banished. Staff across the firm have welcomed the lack of paper cluttering their desk space and found the impact liberating.
The reduced need to store paper has freed up space for people and given Wollen Michelmore the opportunity to re-think the layout of its offices and dedicate more space to human interactions. It’s re-thinking the values of a traditional high street law firm for a world where no-one is tied to a desk for the whole working day.
Wollen Michelmore has also been quick to build on the success of the scanning solution, adding nearly ten bespoke applications. For example, the accounts, client feedback questionnaires and medical negligence cases have also been fully automated
The firm’s relationship with ITEC dates back to 2011. Clive Meredith admits that, back then, he was rapidly losing faith in the quality of printer and copier suppliers – until he met ITEC.
He describes ITEC’s commitment to great customer service as key to the relationship: “Much of our activity is time-critical, so when things go wrong it’s a major inconvenience. But ITEC’s expertise and service have been consistently fantastic.”
It’s all about working smarter, not harder. The key is taking a process that is manual and finding a better way of doing it. Technology helps us both to standardise and to speed up many of our core business processes.
Sustained success is all about responding to the marketplace. As a firm, we like to make quick decisions, and that’s why we want technology in place that lets us change and adapt at speed.