Earlier today (Wednesday 26 October 2011), The Mercure Hotel in Inverness hosted the fourth and final instalment in a series of legal practice management events chaired by Warren Wander, founder of LawCloud. Speakers included David Calder, managing partner of MBM Commercial LLP, Warren Wander, managing director of LawCloud, Andy Glasgow, senior commercial banking relationship manager at RBS, Alison Stark, chartered accountant at The Cashroom and Gavin Ward, search and social media marketing manager at Moore Legal Technology.
David Calder – MBM Commercial
The day started with a keynote from David Calder, managing partner of MBM Commercial. David explained the inception of MBM Commercial from a buy-out of the commercial business of a leading law firm in 2005. With its recent acquisition of a niche technology practice in Oxford, MBM Commercial has been able to establish itself as a specialist UK wide commercial law firm with a niche focus on acting for entrepreneurs, growth companies and investors who are based throughout the UK.
MBM Commercial has used innovative strategies to outsource various functions. One such function, cashroom services have been outsourced by MBM Commercial to The Cashroom, which provides outsourced accounting services for law firms across the UK. David explained that it wasn’t until 2008 that such outsourcing of accountancy was viable for his firm. Now, because of the Cloud, MBM Commercial is able to outsource this vital part of its business, which enables greater flexibility and cost savings for fee earners.
Warren Wander – LawCloud
Warren Wander then presented on the benefits of cloud computing for law firms, explaining how LawCloud has enabled over 170 lawyers across the UK to improve their legal practice with cloud technology.
Explaining LawCloud for the audience, Warren said “In simple terms, LawCloud is the name of our secure server on the internet which you can rent space on. It delivers LawWare Enterprise and is the new generation in Practice Management & Office Software for law firms. It’s built on Microsoft’s Cloud Services platform and housed in a Fort Knox style data centre provided by LawWare business partner Rise Ltd.”
Elaborating on the main features, Warren then discussed Cash Accounting, the Full Electronic Case File, Risk Management & Compliance tools, Microsoft Office 2010 with Email, Shared Diaries, and, a secure, robust, high performance set of servers that have no single point of failure.
Summarising the main ways in which LawCloud benefits law firms across the UK, Warren noted that “It enables flexible working because it’s on the Internet. It supports your mobile and remote working capability which means you can work as easily from home, court or holiday as you can from the office.”
Warren also explained that “Access to all information is at your fingertips. It also means that you can link branch offices together without the need for expensive servers to route the information. We simply connect your remote offices up to the LawCloud Server and straight away you have a wide area network for your teams to share information.”
To discuss any of these aspects in greater detail, please call Warren and the LawCloud team on 0845 2020 577.
Andy Glasgow – RBS
Next, Andy Glasgow of RBS presented on the various financial issues for law firms in the current economic climate. Recognising the downturn and its effect on law firms, Andy noted that the more prudent law firms, from a banking perspective, are those which are able to and, indeed, have adapted quickly to economic pressures, despite the fact that difficult decisions, including staff redundancies, may have to be made.
Andy concluded by recommending that law firms should keep in touch with their accountants or financial advisers to remain in control of their firm’s finances in the current economic climate.
To get in touch with Andy please email Andy.email@example.com.
Alison Stark – The Cashroom
Chartered accountant at The Cashroom, Alison Stark then explained the benefits of outsourced accounting and how cloud computing has enabled The Cashroom to grow and continue to work with an expanding range of law firms across the UK.
Alison elaborated on why outsourced accountancy for law firms is a serious consideration for the practice manager of every law firm in the UK. Against the backdrop of the vast array of rules and regulations that have to be followed by a CRP (CashRoom Partner) for a firm to be compliant, such as Law Society inspections, HMRC, VAT returns, PAYE & NIC, cashflows, surplus, accounts, budgets, etc, As explained that The Cashroom aims to alleviate much of this burden for law firms, allowing all partners to be able to focus on fee-earning activities. This also removes the need for an internal cashroom to be staffed and frees up essential office space and other IT expenses.
The Cashroom provides a virtual cashroom service, on demand 9am-5pm, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. This is made possible by The Cashroom’s use of the Cloud to provide better communication with clients, support flexible working for staff and to manage cashflow better.
Gavin Ward – Moore Legal Technology
Gavin Ward, Search and Social Media Marketing Manager at Moore Legal Technology, then presented on the return on investment for law firms in optimising their use of social media marketing and online presence.
Gavin introduced the subject by explaining the various components of return on investment (ROI) in a social media context. These included brand awareness and development, growth of digital assets, development of risk management capability and direct or indirect financial results.
Using examples of successes both personal and for client law firms, Gavin elaborated on several types of social media use in the legal profession. These include blogging, which can be used to develop personal brands and the brand of the law firm, to share legal knowledge, develop current awareness and ultimately to expand online presence and generate more business online. This LawCloud blog itself, which is listed as one of the top 100 blogs on cloud computing was used as an example of how blogging can work well for firms.
Discussing Twitter as a tool to develop relationships, maintain current awareness and drive traffic to law firm websites, Gavin illustrated examples of Twitter accounts, such as LawCloud’s Twitter account or Lawford Kidd’s Twitter account, together with analytics to measure the use of those accounts.
Lastly, LinkedIn was discussed, with Gavin looking at LinkedIn groups can be particularly rewarding. He looked, for instance, at Warren’s Cloud for Lawyers group which was set up earlier in the year, which has attracted over 500 members and which itself ranks first in Google for the term “Cloud for Lawyers”.
Gavin concluded by suggesting that firms should focus on the benefits and value of social media use in the broader sense, with financial results, e.g. in terms of client wins, inevitably following.
If you’d like to discuss web presence, social media activities or legal website design further, Gavin and the Moore Legal Technology team can be contacted on 0845 620 5664 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On 9 November 2011, the Law Society of Scotland is chairing a conference on cloud computing for Scottish law firms. Please see our blog post on this event for more information.