Welcome to the ‘Horizon’
October 2020 Issue
Well, hello to you all and I hope this latest edition of our Horizon publication finds you well.
There’s been such a lot of activity in and around Legal IT in recent times, so it was difficult to know how to use my strictly limited column space to best effect! There’s, some interesting articles in this edition particularly “A whole new world of security”. It’s an area which everybody seems to be mindful of, but also an area where people don’t really know where to start or what to do when facing the day to day realities of running a busy practice. Sadly, it seems to me that true and meaningful engagement on this, only happens when either an individual or an entire organisation has succumbed to the ever more advancing (and usually costly) exploit. It’s an area that we ourselves take very seriously indeed, but one where we are only one piece, albeit significant, in the overall jigsaw.
At the root of all evil at this moment in time, email! For legal firms, the hustle, bustle and everyday pressures upon fee earners make them particularly vulnerable to email-based attacks, the most prevalent being ‘Man in the middle’, ‘Phishing’ or a clever combination of both.
A man-in-the-middle attack usually involves three players. The victim, the person with whom the victim is trying to communicate, and the criminal, notably the “man in the middle,” i.e. the actual real-world person who is intercepting the victim’s communications. Critical to this scenario is that the victim isn’t aware of the man in the middle.
Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting the email accounts of banks and other financial institutions. Once they gain access (usually by enticing unsuspecting users to click on a link embedded within an email – the Phishing element), they then monitor transactions between the bank and its customers e.g. your organisations accounts department. The attackers then spoof the bank’s email address and send their own instructions to your hoodwinked user, usually within meaningful context, making the intrusion even harder to detect. This in turn convinces your employee to follow the attackers’ instructions rather than the bank’s. As a result, an unwitting employee may end up transferring funds directly into the attackers’ hands.
As with the last decades drive to reduce the burden of paper within our sector, today we need to look at how we drive down the sheer volume of email transactions we undertake daily, especially those where content is financially based. Every ‘type’ of email we remove from circulation is one more significant threat removed. As with the reduction of paper a long and arduous process for many, we must start somewhere. Over the weeks and months ahead, we will be sharing with you further detailed insight and the viable steps you can take towards greatly improving your resilience to such vulnerabilities.
Enjoy the read and do stay safe.
– Richard Roebuck, Managing Director
Virtual LALY Award Show
In light of the recent Covid-19 climate, this year’s LALY award show was held as a virtual event! This not only allowed the event to trial a new era of hosting and connecting with legal aid workers, but it also opened the doors to many new attendees that may have not been able to attend otherwise. It was truly a delight to watch the night unfold and to sponsor the “Legal Aid Team” category, Nicola Burgess accepted the award on behalf of the team over at JCWI – it was clear that the team had demonstrated through their tireless efforts that they go above and beyond for their clients to provide them with justice, ongoing legal support and much needed compassion. A huge well done to them!
A big well done to the Legal Aid Practitioners Team for pulling off a great virtual event!
A Whole New World of Security
The new site is equipped with an easy to use ticket request feature, so any issues our clients may be facing can be dealt with as soon as possible.
Our articles page is the best place to help you keep up with relevant news and industry insights from our highly experienced team, so you don’t get lost in the noise.
Now you can have the wide range of product offerings at the touch of a button, we’ve provided an easy to read layout by creating two categories of essential legal software and innovative solutions, so picking out products is well navigated and informed for your firm.
The services page is equipped with our latest offerings in cloud hosting, Microsoft services, business continuity and device management.
As experienced legal IT specialists we make it our mission to partner with the best companies that can assist us with providing your firm essential backup options, cyber security, business and printing solutions.
For convenience with our new online booking feature your firm can choose from a range of options including free consultation appointments, booking project meetings, site surveys and more.
Embracing the Cloud
Prince Evans Solicitors LLP, is a leading West London law firm, offering a full-service range of legal advice to their diverse client base. Prince Evans work in a number of specialist areas and niche markets, their experienced team continue to provide excellent expertise in all areas of business, property and people law to include corporate transactions, commercial property, social housing and new build homes conveyancing, litigation and personal injury, private client work and much more.
The issue seen in this case was that for some time, Prince Evans had been operating with a myriad of site-based software controlling the various aspects of the firm, which as a result didn’t provide the joined-up approach the firm was looking for. With a software vendor issuing end of support on one of the software provisions and their site based network infrastructure coming to its replacement anniversary, Prince Evans proactively began to investigate their desire to not only consolidate their software provisions, but also embrace cloud hosting technology.
Consequently, Prince Evans explored their options and engaged with software vendors and Accesspoint Technologies who helped them ensure the best plan of action was provided to cater to the current and future needs of the firm. Prince Evans selected their new practice management software and removed a large footprint of their site-based network infrastructure.
Accesspoint Technologies partnered with Dell, investing in the very latest generation of server hardware and infrastructure, based around Hyper-Converged technology in a private datacentre built a new hosted platform for Prince Evans. This combined with Microsoft’s 365 platform created, in essence, a hybrid cloud technology service available across multiple cloud environments, be that public or private, to deliver the latest and greatest best in breed legal IT platform to help drive a more secure and unified process.
Through our partnership with Prince Evans we are now providing them with a broad range of services which includes cloud hosting, necessary consultancy, training and development on their new practice management software.
“Our legacy systems had served us very well for many years but the lack of modern functionality and disjointedness of having separate systems was holding us back. We are very ambitious and determined to be at the cutting edge of legal IT technology, and as a result, we teamed up with Accesspoint, who we knew had a wealth of experience and knowledge in this area, to produce and implement an IT strategy which would take us on our journey and fulfil the ambitions of the partners.”
– Lee Davis
Online Will Planner
We understand that ensuring your clients feel secure and looked after whilst dealing with something as sensitive as creating a Will is important. Equally important is making this process easy, convenient and time saving. With all these things in mind we have developed a fully digital online Wills planning form.
How does it work?
The cleverly designed web form can be branded and integrated into your firm’s website, it’s user friendly and provides a number of features to ensure your clients don’t get stuck or confused along the way. A clear step-by-step process guide and progress bar is provided for clients to monitor and see how much of the form has been completed, and is visible directly on the webpage. Additionally, based on the client’s input, the web form will automatically alert the user on screen if the Will is complex and requires a consultation.
As soon as your clients have filled in the web form, it will be submitted to your firm where a solicitor can verify all the data before submitting it to Tikit P4W. Once the verified data is injected into Tikit P4W it will create a client entity and matter, store all of the information within bespoke Managing Partner tables and insert the Will template.
Once the client submits the form, an email is then sent in real-time to the designated users for the next stage. Processing the Will template will either merge data from the form into a simple Will or trigger a series of questions and answers which, together with information captured in the web form, will then build a complex Will.
What are the benefits?
Quick and Easy
The web-based Will Planner is created by legal IT experts so that your clients can complete basic personal information on a well-designed web form with no fuss.
Remove the need for coming into the office, as the web forms are integrated with your firm’s site and completed remotely by clients, which will then be sent directly to your solicitor.
Your firm can design the web form to fit your branding requirements as well as pick and choose what steps or questions should be added to your web form, providing your clients with a tailored approach.
Enjoy the benefit of having completed web forms submitted into P4W, where it will be duplicate/conflict checked and used to auto populate Wills and other letters and documents.
Digital Client Onboarding Package
The Digital Client Onboarding Package allows your firm to quickly open their virtual doors in order to engage with clients remotely and with ease to get their case moving and avoid missing out on potential business.
Web Integration Toolkit
Clients can visit your firm’s website and fill the online form consisting of core details, such as names, emails etc. Afterwards, the data is pulled straight into Tikit P4W and created as a prospect.
We can create an easy to use workflow by adapting the process to run via a webform that integrates with FormShare.
A standalone portal which allows your clients to pay their deposits/initial consultation fees at the start of the process plus any outstanding fees at the end of the case
Microsoft Teams Integration
This feature allows your clients to initiate a conversation directly from the website with your firms own Microsoft Teams account.
What are the benefits?
It can provide the perfect alternative to face-to-face meetings and consultations. Features such as the web integration toolkit or Tikit FormShare allow your firm to integrate its website with online forms and Formshare to collect core information provided by your clients, where the information can then be sent directly to the PMS.
Digital onboarding provides all the facilities that many modern clients will be looking for. Integration of the package to your firm will make the whole onboarding process as easy as possible and show that your firm is forward thinking and very much dedicated to how your clients and prospects begin their legal journey.
This package integrates a handy Payment Portal, and the customisable feature is the perfect way to complete your digital client onboarding, as it facilitates useful monthly/annual reporting and easy editing to ensure reliable cash flow for your firm.
Website Payment Portal
Accesspoint’s Payment Portal is deployed as a secure, easy to use standalone portal that can be integrated with your website to facilitate client payments for greater efficiency and more convenience.
There are many reasons as to why your firm should explore integrating a payment portal to its website. Offering your client’s a speedy, convenient and secure option to pay their fees will ensure your firm gains a competitive edge as well as a greater level of assurance for the future.
The main features
“Our new payment portal has had a huge impact when dealing with client payments. It’s now much easier for them to pay and it demonstrates our commitment to making their lives easier by using a convenient modern method, plus we benefit from more streamlined and traceable transactions. Accesspoint were very professional and a delight to work with”
– GC (Finance and Practice Manager) at Dawson Cornwell
“The payment portal for us really has been a no-brainer. It was up and running in January before the lockdown measures took hold, and has been an invaluable mechanism for ensuring that team members working from home have been able to provide a facility for clients to make payments and settle bills that are easy to reconcile for accounts purposes.”
– JL (Partner) at Luqmani Thompson & Partners
We all know the legal industry is constantly adapting and throughout these past six months, the changes have continued to come at full speed with new guidelines from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) taking effect. New opportunities as well as challenges have arisen, specifically from the advertising rule that prohibits solicitors from making unsolicited approaches to members of the public. We now find ourselves asking SME firms “are your current marketing tools enough to stand out from the competition and what could you be doing with what’s available in the world of legal marketing IT?”
Branding your firm is a form of advertising in itself and is the best place to start. However, most firms think that creating a catchy slogan and delivering a good service is all it takes to have a memorable brand and as a result fail to stand out from larger competitors. Think about where you want your firm to be and now ask yourself, are you on the right course to achieve it? If not, then consider and maybe reassess your overall strategy with an internal and external audit. Identifying your firms current position and matching it with what your agreed vision is may be hard, so don’t be afraid to get help from an external source, as it will provide you with an experienced view of what to do next. Remember, addressing all of your brand touchpoints, along with exploring what you want your customers to see is only half of the battle, your branding must also be communicated and adopted within your firm to be completely effective.
When people within the firm are on the same page with its vision to deliver and they meet the expectations set from the top management, it will translate to your clients and the service they receive instantly. Introducing an effective intranet portal is a great way to ensure all of the team is able to get on board with any branding strategies from the start as they can stay up to date with company updates and more. This will quickly become the best way to achieve consistency throughout the firm and in turn the service given to clients – ‘a satisfied client is more likely to spread the word of your firm, resulting in free advertising’.
When done right branding can be a powerful instrument to have, keeping it at the forefront of your firm will ultimately lead to more business as it will attract the attention of new clients whilst keeping existing clients engaged and more importantly it will help differentiate your firm from the countless competitors.
With all that considered, it is fair to say that many firms may have adequate branding in place but miss the trick of using their website and portals as a very low-cost advertising tool. With most offices closed in the UK it is more important than ever to focus on your firm’s online presence, having an outdated website that provides the bare minimum to prospects and clients will simply not suffice.
As well as updating the overall layout of your website and portal to appeal to your audience, think about how much more effective it will be to have integrations that allow both to have a more joined up approach to your workflow, as well as attract a wealth of new clients.
Injecting accurate and meaningful data straight into your PMS is certainly not far-fetched as we have seen many websites utilise webforms to collect valuable client information and enquiries. With this approach the possibilities could be endless, once it is in your PMS it can automatically validate the enquiry against existing entities and create a prospect, whilst simultaneously notifying the nominated fee earners of the new enquiry. Guaranteeing that your firm will never miss an opportunity again.
In addition to this, a sure way to gain a competitive advantage is by finding a way to utilise your websites back office, to allow you to identify which marketing channels are providing quality leads and providing a positive return on investment and those that aren’t. The results can then be captured within your PMS. All of this could ensure your website is a streamlined data driven site that enables your firm to act faster and smarter.
Lastly, in recent years SEO has become arguably one of the most important tools the legal marketing field has to offer in order to stand out from competition, this is because more and more prospects use search engines to find legal services that relate to them and is within close proximity and they may use a wide variation of terms and words to find what they’re looking for. Focus on creating detailed SEO strategies that suit your firm’s requirements as well as the needs of your audience, as keywords are constantly changing, maintaining the SEO on your website frequently is important to staying as the top results. Over a short period of time, you will begin to see the improvements – being able to connect with visitors who are looking for your services and eventually seeing an increase in the number of enquiries made, plus more knowledgeable insights to your target audience.
The legal market is more than equipped to deal with regulations that put certain methods of advertising to a halt. With more legal marketing specialists developing new ways to ensure firms can reach their clients, the only thing left for your firm to do is explore the many options available to you.
– Scott Brown, Digital Services Manager