It has two offices in Newcastle and Chester le Street. Back in 2006, it decided to reinvent its conveyancing business, convinced that it could successfully transition into a high volume operation, moving outside of its traditional heartland to secure new instructions both regionally and nationally.
We talk to Geoff Hall about how the firm went about implementing its new strategy and the role Ochresoft Intelliworks has played during this period of reinvention.
Geoff Hall, Gordon Brown Law Firm LLP
Why was technology to play such an important role in your firm’s transformation?
“Our conveyancing business had been built on strong service principles and we wanted to take this focus on the client and customer satisfaction into the high volume model. We didn’t want to sacrifice any quality – we just wanted to be able to offer the same first-rate proposition but to more people. We saw technology as the key, as we believed with the right systems in place we could:
- Handle increased volumes to the same high standards as previously
- Leverage system efficiencies to enable us to price our services more competitively
- Be better positioned to secure more lower margin work
- Improve operating profits through a more cost-effective team structure
- Keep pace more easily with all compliance and regulatory issues”
“System-wise we knew what we wanted – case management with conveyancing specific workflows, something easy to use, easy to manage but whose underlying power and performance would drive us forward fast.”
What was the background to the adoption of Intelliworks?
“We had a year long, ultimately abortive project, to develop a case management system. What we bought was effectively a toolkit so it took a huge amount of time and internal resource to try to engineer a complete solution – we struggled to make it work the way we needed and eventually admitted defeat. This project was bookended by two other system deployments, both out of the box applications but sadly lacking the requisite workflow functionality.
Increasingly frustrated, we were then introduced to Intelliworks and it was our ‘Eureka’ moment. It was such a complete and comprehensive solution, from the core workflows to the extensive precedent bank, all delivered via a superbly intuitive interface. This was exactly the vehicle we’d been after.”
How would you describe your move to Intelliworks?
“There are not too many legal software projects that go live within eight weeks of signing and I think the rapid deployment speaks volumes for both the software and the team behind it. User adoption was wholly positive, initial concern and scepticism over yet another system soon giving way to real engagement.”
What has Intelliworks delivered for the firm?
“We’ve grown our conveyancing volumes by 400% but have still been able to deliver on our original objectives of maintaining the quality while lowering the cost. Our fee earner count has remained static but rather than running with the old 1:1 secretary ratio, they are now supervising over a dozen paralegals and support staff, ensuring that the department is running as lean and mean as possible. As well as being more cost-efficient, we are also much more productive – as a result, we can take on appreciable volumes of lower margin work that we wouldn’t have been able to entertain previously.
It’s more than just the numbers though. Staff are now free to spend more time on the value-adds, such as client contact, quality management and help with business development.
It also gives us the opportunity to bring people on and develop their skill sets. Some might see a workflow system as actually deskilling the conveyancing process but Intelliworks gives us the supervisory framework that encourages team working with on the job training and the embracing of more responsibility.
As a Lexcel and CQS-accredited firm, we’ve looked too at Intelliworks’ contribution to compliance. A key area for us is its provision of audit trails as that radically simplifies the task of oversight for us, providing demonstrable proof of our adherence to process and risk management protocols.
Last but not least, our clients are feeling the benefit as well. A high quality legal service at an ultra-competitive price point, complete with online case tracking and a responsive, helpful human being at the end of the phone if need be – who said ‘commoditise’ had to mean ‘compromise’?”
What’s the final verdict?
“Intelliworks has been instrumental in Gordon Brown’s successful repositioning for the future. We’d been hampered for long enough by the wrong systems but with Intelliworks we got it right. It’s been driving us forward strongly since 2008 – and we haven’t looked back since.”
Tangible benefits delivered to the firm:
- Substantial reduction in overheads through a realignment of resources
- Quadrupling of volumes with no commensurate uplift in personnel
- Successful transition into volume market with no diminishing of service standards
- Major efficiency and productivity gains thanks to clear processes and readily available precedents
- Time freed up from administrative burden reinvested in customer relationships and personal development
- Online case tracking provides a real differentiator
- Comprehensive audit trails ease burden of demonstrating best practice i.e. Lexcel and CQS
- Demonstrable commitment to risk management
- Extensive reporting function helps us manage the business efficiently