Case Study: Legal IT in practice at Chadwick Lawrence
Established 160 years ago, Chadwick Lawrence offers professional and supportive legal advice to both private and commercial clients. The company now has seven offices and over 250 members of staff covering the West Yorkshire region. Departments offering traditional legal services, such as family law and conveyancing, sit side by side with dedicated commercial and employment departments. Chadwick Lawrence is also one of the few law firms in the area to have specialist medical negligence and sports law capabilities.
IT is not just an operational feature of Chadwick Lawrence’s business, but is part of strategic discussions at board level and plays a key role in informing its corporate strategy. As part of its ambition to take the practice forward, Chadwick Lawrence recognised the need to be more ‘on the front foot’ with technology.
Neil Wilson, Managing Partner at Chadwick Lawrence explains, “We take IT very seriously, but I wouldn’t say that has always been the case. A few years ago I would be the first one to admit that IT was very much ‘siloed’ within our business – it was a bit of an afterthought whilst we concentrated on getting our brand right and delivering the best possible service for our customers. This meant we were quitereactive to our IT, and it wasn’t as smooth a process for our users as I would have liked.”
The practice’s 4 person IT team therefore needed a third party IT specialist to help ensure the smooth, daily running of the IT infrastructure and software that caters for staff operating at 7 locations – across West Yorkshire.
Chadwick Lawrence chose IT services specialist TSG, to protect and support its IT environment – benefiting from strategic advice – as well as the ‘nitty gritty’ stuff. TSG’s highly intelligent IT support solution – SystemCare – was employed to monitor the practice’s 16 servers, 24/7 – alerting Chadwick Lawrence of any issues, so the IT team can address them.
The practice’s server infrastructure is centralised in one location, with access provided to the 7 sites via a VPN. TSG recently helped the practice upgrade connectivity between these sites to leased lines, which means they have a fully scalable, highly secure and fast connection between offices. This was a wise move, because data is very sensitive – especially in the legal sector, so Chadwick Lawrencemust operate at an incredibly secure level. EFM backup was chosen by TSG as the best solution for high connectivity speeds, with minimal downtime – and without the expense of fibre optic, Ethernet leased lines.
Surviving a disaster
When Chadwick Lawrence was hit badly by the floods that engulfed Yorkshire in December 2015, the practice didn’t experience any downtime thanks to the backup solution that TSG put in place. However, this scare made the practice re-evaluate its IT set up, so it worked with TSG on creating a new disaster recovery plan. This enables the practice to now take truly preventative measures – in the face of an even more substantial incident.
Operating across 7 sites means Chadwick Lawrence can be closer to its clients, but this also creates internal communication and collaboration challenges. To solve this problem, TSG built a Microsoft SharePoint solution. The result is that all of the practice’sdocuments are now managed and categorised expertly, and can be accessed securely by staff – whichever office they are working in.SharePoint is also used as an intranet – proving an easy way to update people on key information and initiatives.
Wilson adds, “You must have an IT model that is scalable, in order to be competitive in the marketplace. Every conversation with TSG (on a strategic level) is now focused around questions such as, “Will this help us be more scalable?” and “Will this make us more resilient?”
Looking to the near future, TSG will continue to support Chadwick Lawrence on an operational and strategic level. The practice is currently looking at hosting its data in the cloud, rather than on premise servers. With its fast growth and almost constant new client on-boarding – the cloud will provide scalability so the practice can deal with these challenges.
Wilson concludes, “I’ve found TSG’s people to be highly skilled and approachable, but their distinguished levels of service is something you don’t come across very often. TSG are a fantastic resource to us – I’d go as far as saying I couldn’t be without them.”