Withy King moves to Elite
UK law firm Withy King has selected Thomson Elite's Enterprise solution to undertake its core practice and financial management operations as it seeks to implement an ambitious five year growth strategy. The rapidly expanding firm has six locations across the south of England, including a new London office, and is on track to become a £25m turnover firm by 2010.
Withy King Managing Partner, Martin Powell, says the firm's purchasing decision was driven by the need for best practice technology that would allow fee earners to concentrate on client matters whilst receiving the best financial and case management information. Powell said: “As a progressive law firm we need to have systems and processes that will enable organic growth and facilitate future alliances. We have made a choice for the future.”
Hilary Gladwell, Head of Marketing, says Withy King needed to remove the constraints of its legacy systems (the firm ran an SOS PMS) which included the lack of information integration and the resulting delay in management reporting. “We had simply outgrown our software platform,” Gladwell said. “Having become a much larger firm over the last five years we realised we lacked the type of functionality necessary to capitalise on and further extend our growth. Having an integrated and robust practice management system is extremely important. We will have readily available information about the performance of the firm that will give management the ability to adjust outcomes, thus providing the best value and maximising client satisfaction.”
Withy King's Head of Information Technology, Dave Eagle, said that law firm technology solutions have matured exponentially during recent years and that Withy King were determined to capitalise on this availability. “We wanted a system that assisted our plans not inhibited them! We saw the need for our technology to be intuitive and supportive of our professional staff. We wanted lawyers to be lawyers, not part-time IT staff.”
Eagle was part of a cross-practice team that evaluated available system offerings. “We immediately saw that the Elite system provided what we were seeking. There was a richness and depth in the Elite product that was not apparent in the others. We were also aware that this was a sophisticated product chosen by progressive law firms across the globe.” Key users and members of the management team conducted several site visits and were impressed with how other firms were using Elite. “These were firms bigger than ourselves so we knew the product could handle our future aspirations,”
He added that the firm had an urgent need for predictive KPIs that were impossible to obtain from its legacy systems. “We had to export the data from the legacy systems to Excel spreadsheets and then spend a great deal of time manipulating that information into digestible reports. “With the new Thomson Elite system these reports are provided by the Business Intelligence modules allowing non-IT people to easily access information.” Eagle said it allows the firm to be a lot more proactive. “We will know which clients to contact when events, such as changes to legislation, require interaction between client and lawyer.”
Another of the key areas with which the firm struggled was tracking referral business. When business is introduced through an internal or external referral, Withy King endeavours to record the details and value of the resulting business. Said Eagle: “We have a bonus scheme based on referrals, so huge importance is placed on being able to obtain accurate reports. However, our customer relationship applications did not talk to our financial systems and so trying to track referral business accurately was extremely difficult. People didn't have confidence in the system and were reluctant to use it as a result.”
With full integration between Apex Marketing Manager – Elite's CRM application specially tuned for law firms – and the new financial modules, Eagle anticipates reporting on cross referrals will become far more reliable.
Gladwell added “Being able to monitor return on investment on marketing initiatives and improve our business development activity will provide us with the potential to develop a more sophisticated range of marketing initiatives. “Obviously this will make marketing planning much easier,” she said. “Previously business managers struggled to identify exactly from where their business was coming. We will now be able to extract this information and plan our marketing campaigns with a higher degree of certainty.”
Eagle predicts that the system will also help streamline internal business processes, including giving fee-earners more control of the billing process. “We expect fee earners to become much more selfsufficient and the quality and timeliness of our billing processes to improve as a result. The Elite time and billing functionality is extremely easy to use and was a key factor in the selection process.”
Martin Powell concludes that the bottom line was the acquisition of a tool that was going to pay for itself within a year by improving the whole revenue cycle. Withy King is based primarily in the South West with its principal offices in Bath, Swindon and London. Withy King aims to grow to a £25million turnover within five years and currently has a total of 180 staff, including 33 partners and 110 fee earners. In 2006 the Financial Times Innovative Lawyers Report ranked Withy King as one of the top 10 most innovative firms in the UK.