Back to Basics for Lawyers: January 2012

Welcome to the January edition of Back to Basics — a Business Briefing for Lawyers and a belated Happy New Year to all my readers.

This month the focus is on taking action.

Even the best laid plans depend of solid action to make them happen but how many times have those best laid plans come to nothing because of your own inertia.

The best way to get to your objective is to actually do something about it.

We will see in this edition of Back to Basics that even the smallest of steps are important.

Any journey must start with a single step—don’t let your hopes and ambitions be thwarted by failing to put one foot in front of the other!

If you need any help with your plans or putting them into action, please get in touch with me—I’d be delighted to help.

Brian O’Neill LL.B MBA
Business Consultant
40c Drakemyre
Dalry
North Ayrshire
KA24 5JE
t. 07855 838395

e.   brian@drakemyre.co.uk

I’ve got the plan……how do I start?

In the December issue of Back to Basics we looked at Forward Planning and made some recommendations of what to do and where to start. You’ve all don’t that….right?

January gives everyone an ideal opportunity to throw off the old and look to the new. It’s a new year with a whole twelve months to look forward to. If you’ve really taken time to think about what you’d like to do in 2012 and how you’d like to achieve it, then taking action is the very first step to achieving your objectives.

It doesn’t matter whether your plan is written on a single sheet of paper or is a professionally bound and presented plan – without taking that first step you will never achieve anything.

All the best plans depend on action. If you’re travelling to your destination, you need to start somewhere. You might not be able to see your destination but you usually know how to get to the end of your street. Start with the end in sight and take those small steps that will lead to achievement of your goal.

January last year saw the first publication of Back to Basics for Lawyers. I had had an ambition for quite a long time to produce such a publication—short sharp management tips and recommendations that take up no more than two sides of an A4 sheet of paper (for those of you who print this off).  I planned out the topics for the first twelve months, I spoke to some colleagues and asked if they would contribute occasionally (and to Simon who I asked to contribute in every edition) and then went about  listing the things in each topic that I wanted to cover—and the list grew and grew and grew……..but I still hadn’t achieved anything. I didn’t actually achieve anything until I typed my first word—then my first paragraph and, finally all the words for the first edition. I then assembled the Briefing into the style of publication you are now reading and incorporated Simon’s piece. At last, Back to Basics for Lawyers was born—and here we are, 12 months and 12 editions later in a brand new year and yet another edition of Back to Basics for Lawyers.

All this couldn’t have happened without those first words. All the planning in the world wouldn’t have achieved anything and it would all still have been a dream.

If you truly have done some work in setting your objectives, start to realise them by taking even the smallest step that will help you on the way—and if you haven’t yet started—don’t you think it’s about time you did? Nobody else is going to do it for you!

Simon says…..

Growing your business – January 2012

In last month’s article my main point was this – it is possible for any business to grow in this economy. It requires thought, it requires knowledge of your clients, it requires the ability to put yourself in the client’s shoes and imagine a better buying opportunity. I asked you to think about why your client is your client. Hopefully you have had some quiet time to contemplate this.

The potential for a law firm to grow is different for each firm. A sole practitioner is different from a chamber practice, which is different from a corporate law firm; so the strategies have to reflect this. But the principles for increasing turnover are the same – these I also talked about last month – attract more clients, or, increase the amount each client spends (ideally both).

Attracting more clients – promote yourself. It’s tremendously effective when carried out well. Doing it well means being clear about the message and the benefits, and, targeting this at the right recipients. Here are a couple of examples – having thought about things over the break you may feel that at this time of the year a good message to target your existing clients with is – the importance of up-to-date Wills and the benefits of Powers of Attorney. An alternative plan could be one that says – we need to remind our clients of the range of services we provide. The former plan is value based; it offers some information and advice up front and persuades the recipient that there is some knowledge and potential advantage to be gained from further investigation – when done correctly it also achieves the second plan’s aim. Embarking on the second example is not necessarily a bad plan, but it is difficult to establish a ‘call to action’ with it, i.e. give a reason for the recipient to contact you. You could put an ‘offer’ into the message, for example a free or discounted will with every purchase, but in my opinion the overall message is weakened by being price led as opposed to quality led. Now that you have spent some time analysing your clients – come up with the best plans that cover all types of clients so that everyone gets at least one message this year.

Increasing the client spend – this often requires some even smarter thinking as there are a few strategies you can examine. There is the discount store scenario – how much can you deliver for a set fee. This is often useful for conveyancers, particularly those that perceive the market is price led. Understand what you can deliver for the market rate and call this the Bronze Standard, then create 2 higher levels of service, the Silver Standard and the Gold Standard and specify what you will provide and a price for these. When someone asks for a quote, offer all 3. The questions that follow tell you all you need to know about the prospect and how to handle them in terms of whether they are truly price driven or if they might appreciate a little more by way of service and fee. These are the clients that you must identify, across the board. Those that appreciate a little more and understand that they need nurturing; they appreciate the concept of value, so mark them out for this because you can provide them with more services. These are your good clients not the ones that buy on price.

All firms must be able to identify and send messages to their good clients. Use your Practice Management System to flag these clients and keep their details up-to-date. Regularly correspond with them, 3 or 4 times a year, without fail. It’s no use just doing this sporadically. It must be regular and reliable, in order to build a relationship and persuade these clients that you are interested in them and that you do have their best interests at heart. Don’t expect massive results immediately, just because you send 1 letter. But by the end of the year you should be able to see the difference, easily.

Have a good 2012 by making it a good 2012.

Simon Greig is Sales Manager of LawWare Limited, Edinburgh. Contact Simon at simon@lawware.co.uk

Financial Actions

I make no excuse for revisiting this topic over and over again. You might have the most complex and detailed plan and be desperate to put it into action but you will never ever achieve it unless you have the funding to make it happen.

In any plan, you need to carefully set out your projected revenue and expenditure—what income you calculate you will generate when you carry through with your plan and how much you will need to spend to achieve your objectives. It is incredible the number of legal firms that do not have even the most basic financial projections and yet still expect to be successful year on year.

Why is it that in any business plan, a large portion is taken up with the financial aspects? Simple really. Without the right funding any plan is doomed to failure from the start.

Review your plan in conjunction with your financial projections—your Profit & Loss and, most importantly, your Cashflow Projections. It is surprising how many lawyers still struggle with projections and have difficulty explaining the difference between profit and cashflow only to find out the difference late in the day when they are showing decent profits but have failed to collect the cash due to inadequate credit control policies!

As Mr Micawber in David Copperfield famously said “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen, nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery”.

Make sure your plans are properly costed out and if you’ve not yet done that, this is one of the very first things you need to do.

Sit down, work out what you and the other fee earners in the firm are likely to generate in the coming 12 months. If you’re really stuck, have a look at what was generated for each fee earner last year and consider whether there is likely to be an increase or decrease in that level. You should know your business and the challenges in the market, be able to take into account what impact your plans will have and come up with figures that you can support.

From an expenditure point of view, take each of your expenditure headings and really challenge yourself on whether you need to spend this money or not—you might want to spend it on this item or that but you might not need to spend it—know the difference and discipline yourself to spend only what you need to spend. Do not trust your finances to luck—the odds are always stacked against the gambler!

Don’t wait to get it perfect

If you really want your plan to fail, then try to get it perfect. Learn quickly that there is no such thing as the perfect plan—it simply isn’t achievable.

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t aspire for excellence, but if you’re trying to create something that’s perfect, you’ll spend so much time trying to create that perfect plan that you’ll never get round to putting it into action.

Consider what options are available to you. Ask your partners colleagues and staff. Make sure you have a common understanding of the problems and when you gather the information from these sources you will have a list of what’s available to include in your plan (there is a specific workshop that I run that helps you with this part of the process). This will help you develop a plan that is robust and resilient and up to the challenges you are facing.

Every plan has some sort of shortcoming or defect and you’ll usually only find that out when you start to put it into practice. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t start until you’re sure or that you need to think through every conceivable option.

You should strive for excellence and part of that exercise is setting down the actions you intend to take—what comes first, what’s next and what’s after that. And so on and so forth. You’ll learn fairly quickly what’s working and what’s not and which of your assumptions (and you will need to make assumptions when putting your plan together) work and which don’t.

Think about it this way:

You need to be in motion before you can change direction. If you don’t like the direction your business has been going or the results you are getting you need to do something about it. You can only do that something if you are in motion—and they way to get into motion is to make a start. Once you’ve build up some momentum it’s likely that you’ll realise that there are opportunities available to you that you might not have thought about and because you’re in motion you may be able to avoid some of the threats that are out there.

If you are standing still when the threat comes along it can be very difficult to avoid it and that can have a disastrous impact on your business.

Make sure your plan is fundamentally sound and not fanciful or over-ambitious—remember the SMART objectives we looked at in January 2011 edition. Get up and running and follow your plan and fine tune things as you go.

Back to Basics for Lawyers: December 2011

Welcome to the December edition of Back to Basics — a Business Briefing for Lawyers.

This month the focus is on Forward Planning.

Whilst there is no substitute for knowing where you want to go, unless you put in the time and effort to plan your journey you will probably end up anywhere but the place you want to go.

This edition of Back to Basics focuses on forward planning—or planning for the future. The future will come whether you like it or not so be ready. Decide what you want, set out your plan and go for it!

It doesn’t need to be complicated—often, the best plans and ideas are the most simple ones – so remember the KISS principle. December it traditionally a month when we look back at the year just past and start to think about what the coming year will bring. It’s amazing what you can learn from a little bit of reflective practice.

If you need any help or support with your Forward Planning activities or setting your objectives—or even just exploring what your options are, please get in touch with me—I’d be delighted to help.

Brian O’Neill LL.B MBA
Business Consultant
t. 07855 838395
e. brian@drakemyre.co.uk

What do you see in 2012?

They say that hindsight has perfect vision, but there’s nothing like a bit of foresight to help you get to where you want to go—that is, if you know where it is you want to go.

I have a colleague who, at the time of writing, is three days into an Atlantic crossing on a cruise liner on his way to New York. He didn’t just wake up on Monday morning and think “I’m going to go to New York today”. His trip was a long time in the planning stage—from the selection of the date, which Cruise Line, his departure point, method of travel to the departure point, the type of cabin he would book, the number of nights in New York and selection of return flight. There were lots of variables to consider from a vast array of choices. And here we are, he made it to Southampton and is now well on his way to New York. It didn’t just “happen”.

My colleague had an objective in mind before he set out on his adventure and to help him achieve it and to enjoy the experience, a lot of time went into the planning. He’s an experienced traveller and particularly enjoys cruises—but on each and every occasion, he plans his trip meticulously. When you go on holiday how well do you plan your trip? It may surprise you to know that many business people spend more time planning their holiday than they do planning the future of their business —and that’s a shocking truth!

Be honest with yourself as you look back on 2011. Did you start this year with a plan? Did you sit down in December 2010 and say “2011 is going to be the year when…….” complete the sentence with whatever objectives you had at the beginning of the year—if you had any, that is.

There can be no substitute for forward planning. To do that effectively, you really do need to know where you are going. We are in December 2011 and, for many, it has been another tough year. Many businesses are struggling through low or no growth whilst others are going backwards with profits down (or losses up!) on last year. You might be interested to know that there are some businesses that are thriving in the current market.

They have not been idle in the downturn and have been continuously planning to meet their objectives. You see, once you know what it is you want, it is far more straight forward to start to lay out the things you need to do to achieve what you want.

It’s December—where do you want to be this time next year? Why don’t you spend some time reviewing what it is you want and then set about planning to achieve it?

Keep it simple

KISS—keep it simple…..stupid!

Yes, that well worn saying that, if anything, has been overused. But then again, it does have tremendous value. Whether you’re the experienced Partner running the business or the new Trainee just in the door, there are some very basic steps that you should take . There are lots of ways to do forward planning — but I’m a big fan of keeping it as simple as possible.

Start off by being absolutely clear where you are starting from. What is the reality of your current situation? Are you happy with it? Are you moving towards your objectives (do you have any objectives to move towards)? How are you measuring your progress? These are just some of the initial questions you MUST ask yourself. You MUST do this before getting into any detail or serious planning—otherwise you’ll just end up going round in circles.

Once you are clear on your current situation and your objectives you’re then in a position to start to plan. You will know the “gap” between where you are and where you want to be—so now you MUST set out the things you need to do to bridge that gap.

You must also be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your practice and focus on capitalising on the strengths. Be aware, also, of the threats that you face and how to counter them as well as the opportunities that present themselves—and how to take advantage of them.

You need to consider the financial resources you will need, the new skills you might have to acquire, the business development work you will need to do to grow your business and the tactics you will employ to achieve your aims. All of these elements form your plan—when you will need them and how you will apply them. Write it all down and, most important of all, take action on it.

When my colleague left on his Atlantic cruise, the Ship’s Captain had a very clear objective in mind—to sail the ship to New York. That is his objective. He set out on Monday with his destination in mind and will chart his course in accordance with his plan. His destination is not in doubt – is yours…..?

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Simon says…..

The story of the Christmas tree – December 2011

This month’s topic is as tall and wide as you want to make it and in some ways that’s the problem with future planning, where do you start and where do you finish?

My partner and I went to buy a Christmas tree on Sunday. We went to our usual place, a small local company whose business it is to grow Christmas trees, that’s all they produce – they don’t make anything else. She remarked that their business plan must sound a bit odd because they only have a sales period of about 1 month in a financial year; I agreed that on the face of it was pretty limited. However I noticed some distinct changes this year with their sales proposition. Instead of just selling trees this year – they had a little Christmas shop in the barn, it wasn’t a big selection but we did stop and peruse; we bought a candle. He is also selling Christmas wreaths; we bought one. After selecting our tree, it was wrapped and taken out to our car by the assistant (nice touch). There was a burger van in the car park.

So what has happened here? And why is this a good example of planning for the future? Because earlier this year they planned to increase Turnover and are executing their plan.

There are 2 basic ways to increase Turnover. Attract more customers, or, increase the average amount your customers spend with you. (Or, both). They have planned to increase the average spend per customer. This has meant organising their premises, identifying and buying stock. Hiring or buying electronic point of sale tills (they now need to handle payment cards, whereas previously they were cash based). And, recognising that customers will spend longer with them – providing hot snacks and drinks (it’s a barn; it’s not heated). The stock has cost money, which is a risk, but has been mitigated by the wreaths (which they make from the bits of tree that get trimmed before sale, plus trimmings). I imagine the burger van pays a pitch fee.

My point is this. It is possible for any business to grow in this economy. It requires thought, it requires a knowledge of your customer, it requires the ability to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and imagine a better buying opportunity.

So what actually happened when we went to buy our Christmas tree? In this case my partner bought a candle on an impulse buy (ladies like candles – its romantic). I brought the wreath, I know (I guess they do too) they are on sale in garden centres for between £40 – £60, I also knew we ‘needed’ one. These were £15. (guys like a bargain – if it’s ok with the ladies, it was! – close the deal Simon). And the tree is really good too! (You get to see them standing (unwrapped), select the one you want and then they wrap it for transporting home).

So my Christmas message is this – understand why your customer is your customer, understand the dynamics involved, then think about how to maximise your opportunity, think about what you need to put in place to achieve this, cost it out – know where you’re break-even point is, mitigate as many of the risks as possible, and then do it.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you.

Simon Greig is Sales Manager of LawWare Limited, Edinburgh. Contact Simon at simon@lawware.co.uk

A little bit of reflective practice is a good thing

After what is always a hectic run up to the bit day, the festive break is a time to relax and enjoy the occasion of Christmas. If you have young children it can be a magical time as they get off to bed early dreaming about what Santa will bring them. If you are taking some time off, whilst it’s always great to get away from work, why not take just a little bit of time out over the holiday to do a little bit of reflection on the events of the year.

What are the things that have gone well for you? Think about how these came about and how you felt when they came to pass. What decisions did you make that helped bring about these good events and who was involved in making them happen. Most importantly, what can you do to make events go your way in the coming year.

On the other hand, what things didn’t go your way this year? There’s always something that didn’t turn out the way you thought it would. Reflect on the events that led up to it and why it happened. Did you see it coming? Were there things you could have done that might have prevented it happening? Most importantly, whether good or not so good things happened, think about what you’ve learned from them. Did the way things turned out teach you anything about yourself? What about the way you handled the situation?

There’s nothing you can do about these events now—they’re in the past—but just maybe, the lessons you’ve learned as a result of these experiences will stand you in god stead as you plan for your future.

Finally, it’s the season to be jolly. Give yourself a pat on the back for making it through a difficult 2011. Relax and enjoy the festive period and have a very Marry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year. See you in 2012!

Brian O’Neill LL.B MBA
Business Consultant
t. 07855 838395
e. brian@drakemyre.co.uk

Inverness welcomes the Cloud

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.

David Calder and his team at MBM Commercial can be contacted on 0333 2400 313 or at mailto:david.calder@mbmcommercial.co.uk.

Warren Wander – LawCloud

Cloud Computing

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.glasgow@rbs.co.uk.

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.

To discuss outsourced accountancy further, please contact Alison Stark or Catherine O’Day on 01506 592 263 or by email at info@thecashroom.co.uk.

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  gavin@moorelegaltechnology.co.uk.

Future Events

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.

A secret in Cloud Success

Sat on a busy morning train, laptop on table, connected to 3g checking emails, just plugged in the headphones into my Window 7 smart phone to listen to a podcast, plugged the laptop into the power socket on the train, sip of a coffee from Nero and I literally feel “all wired up”. What has the world come to…

Interestingly, the podcast is Radio 4’s click-on and it’s called a world without wires and it’s talking about the amount of radio waves now flying around us covering all sorts of data information and the up and coming superfast 4g technology that is already taking Sweden by storm.

Yesterday, The Guardian published a Cloud Technology supplement on printed page and online
The Guardian Newspaper – Cloud Computing

Whilst there are many Cloud publications, this one seems to condense the current state of play into a very readable feature. One thing that really stood out for me was the comment from Rise that “The Cloud is more about business transformation than technology”.

I was impressed to see The Law Society of Scotland taking the lead with their Cloud computing CPD event scheduled for 9th November Law Society Cloud Event and their discussion on Cloud Services – Procurement Guide for the Legal Profession at Procurement Guide Discussion

The Guardian’s Cloud feature includes an interesting article entitled “Steps to get ahead in The Cloud” and poses the single question – where, exactly, do you start?

• A first pointer suggests a close relationship between your business and the company providing the Cloud technology is a good start.
• Next, look for good quality marks as well as reference site. Signs such as ISO 270001 (an industry standard information security certificate) and the CIF Mark (Cloud Industry Forum) are recognised.
• Then there is the question of whether your data is stored in a location that adheres to the Data Protection Act. The DPA in the UK covers data sovereignty whilst US companies will be subject to the Patriot act in their legislation which outranks our legislation.
• Another Cloud advocate suggests that you should take a phased or at least calculated approach to Cloud adoption. Focus on the business need to become more productive or save money. You may want to focus on generating more business, link branch offices or communicate better with remote staff, in which case you should ensure that your solution is designed around that focus.
• It has been suggested that an important factor is working out the divorce with your Cloud partner before you work out the marriage. “If someone is going to be holding your corporate crown jewels in the cloud, how would you exit?”… Think about the end game before from the start of the planning process.
• Finally, you shouldn’t get carried away. Very few providers can supply a complete real time application of all information on the Cloud, so check what you want is there but also ask whether you need it because it does cost.

All of this reaffirms my most recent post Journey to the cloud gains momentum which cites that a very high proportion of small to medium sized law firms are already adopting Cloud, giving them the flexibility to be more efficient and competitive in times that are changing faster than ever for lawyers.

Andy Burton, CEO of The Cloud Industry Forum states that “The David’s of the business world can now truly compete with the Goliaths on a level playing field, thereby changing the face of competition for good.”

Opportunities have never been more prevalent for innovative practitioners to embrace changes in the legal world alongside the technology industry to create something envious.

The LawCloud business has transitioned alongside these changes and in only 18 months, having transformed LawWare from a long established, traditional supplier of on premise software systems to lawyers in Scotland, to LawCloud – a company leading the way in the supply of Cloud technologies to law firms throughout the UK. Social media has helped extend our reach and generate a new wave of online business that was not possible before the advent of LinkedIn, twitter, Facebook and more recent popularity of blogging.

Benjamin Disraeli said “The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.”…

This article is also published in The Firm Magazine online at The Man Who Knows

LawCloud’s data centre partner is named global Microsoft Hosting Solutions Partner of the Year.


We are delighted to announce that today, Rise, LawCloud’s Data Centre Partner has been named as Microsoft’s global Hosting Solutions Partner of the Year for 2011. This acknowledges Rise as the partner of choice for demonstrating Cloud solutions, innovation and our commitment to partnering with Microsoft.

Our selection criteria for hosting LawCloud was stringent and an absolutely essential choice for the future of LawCloud. This award confirms that our choice of hosting partner was absolutely correct.
Beating strong competition from over 3000 entrants, Rises’ revolutionary DataCenter on Demand service has been recognized for providing outstanding solutions and services to the partner community.

This award is a testament to our alliance with Microsoft and Rise and we are proud to be officially recognized on the global stage as working with Microsoft’s Hosting Solutions Partner of the Year. This award reflects Rise’s commitment to its partners and their customers by offering them the most flexible, affordable and manageable platform possible, and we are delighted to reinforce that through this acknowledgment.

Get more LawCloud News here, find out more about Rise here

The Next Generation of Legal Practice Management: LawCloud Officially Launched

LawCloud Officially Launched

LawCloud was officially launched on 2 February 2011 at Microsoft’s offices at Waverley Gate in Edinburgh. With a full turnout of over 90 delegates, this CPD event successfully demonstrated and explained the Cloud in simple terms to leaders from the Scottish legal profession.

LawCloud Practice Management Software Launch

LawCloud Practice Management Software Launch

The establishing market, whether from a economic, societal or technological standpoint, was one of the key focuses of the day. Against this backdrop, LawWare’s Managing Director, Warren Wander, discussed how the Cloud can help to protect legal businesses, work flexibly, save costs and be more competitive. The key types of firm that were considered were new starts, traditional law firms with legacy equipment and growing law firms.

Other speakers included Microsoft’s Regional Director for Scotland, Derrick McCourt, who gave a Keynote address on Cloud, The Law Society of Scotland’s Deputy Registrar, James Ness, who gave a comprehensive review of changing times, Stuart James from our cloud platform provider who discussed the Cloud in more technical detail, managing partner of Brymer Legal, Stewart Brymer who discussed LawCloud from his experiences as a LawCloud user, and Catherine O’Day of the Cashroom LLP, who explained outsourcing cashroom services. The day concluded with several discovery workshops with live demonstrations of cloud technology as it works within LawCloud.

Warren Wander, Managing Director, LawWare Ltd

Warren commenced the event, saying “I’m really very excited to be here today because it also marks the official launch of a new generation of Practice Management and Office software for Scottish lawyers and we’ve called it LawCloud.”

Explaining how LawCloud works, he noted that “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 know style data centre.

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. 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.”

Further benefits of LawCloud that were emphasised included peace of mind for practices, through automatic backups, with in-built disaster recovery and a ready-made business continuity plan, together with automatic updates and simplified outsourcing, all for a low fixed monthly cost.

Further News

For more detailed news about the event, see our LawCloud Event Review. In the meantime, if you have any queries, please visit LawCloud’s website at http://www.lawcloud.co.uk.

LawCloud releases new Website

LawCloud’s New Website

As a complement to this blog, LawCloud now has its own official website at http://www.lawcloud.co.uk.

We hope that this site will provide clear and relevant information on our LawCloud product, in addition to all appropriate contact details should you wish to get in touch with our team.

LawCloud Website Screenshot

LawCloud Website Screenshot

LawCloud Moves to New Offices

As promised through LawCloud’s Twitter account, there are some significant announcements to be made.

New Offices for LawWare

The first of these announcements is that LawWare, which is the legal practice management company powering LawCloud, is now operating from new offices. We were have left St Andrew Square but we finally ran havout of room. We have moved just around the corner to Raeburn House in York Place in Edinburgh. The building is a Georgian town house spread over 4 floors (including the basement) and we have secured the top floor for ourselves. It is the former home of Sir Henry Raeburn, the acclaimed portrait artist. We still operate under the same telephone number and email addresses. However, our address has changed to:-

LawWare Ltd
Raeburn House
32 York Place
Edinburgh
EH1 3HU

With LawCloud’s official launch next week on Wednesday 2 February 2010, we hope that this new office move complements some even greater steps for LawWare.

LawCloud: Cloud for Lawyers UK