The combined firm aims to leverage technology to target London work at regional prices

Hampshire law firms Phillips Solicitors and Brain Chase Coles Solicitors are to merge on 1 February 2020 to create a circa 80-staff regional practice, leveraging a pure cloud technology stack to drive efficiency and target work that would traditionally go to London law firms.

The firms informed staff of the merger this week and in a statement said: “The merged practice will create a powerful regional law firm with true legal strength.”

Clients will be able to access a broad spectrum of legal expertise including commercial and residential property, corporate and commercial, litigation, family, wills and probate, estate planning, employment, insurance and education law.

The combined firm will run on LEAP Legal Software, which Phillips rolled out in 2018 led by head of IT Mike Worth, who joined in 2013 with a mandate to (our slightly cliched words not his) future proof the firm. Phillips is in the final stages of a five-year plan, which has seen it move to Office 365 and Exchange in the cloud.

Worth told Legal IT Insider: “We’re all cloud, although not for cloud’s sake. It gives us flexibility and makes us more agile and takes the strain off-site servers.” LEAP data is stored on Amazon Web Services serve and the solution is entirely internet-based.

The strategy for the combined firm looks set to be a continuation of existing themes: to grow the business over the next three to five years and to become more efficient, more paper lite and able to service clients in the same way as a London law firm but at regional prices.

Worth is now looking at Microsoft Teams and says: “We’re going to need to be more collaborative internally.”

Other items on the agenda include finding an appropriate CRM system and a system to archive closed matters and files. Phillips already uses BigHand Pro, a SaaS product that includes dictation, speech recognition and workflow/electronic approval application BigHand Go.

Small to mid-size law firms have the capability, given the right management and mandate, to be extremely agile when it comes to leveraging technology, which usually comes down to culture. It is perhaps of some significance that Phillips is a limited company and its managers are directors.

In announcing the merger Phillips, senior director Howard Gardener said: “There is a natural and positive cultural fit to both firms, which is why the idea of a merger felt right, right from the start.”

caroline.hill@liti.co.uk

This story was updated to remove reference to a supplier at the request of the firm.