By Legal Futures Associate Osprey Approach
Established in 2010, ChildCare LLP provides specialist advice and legal representation for children, parents, and guardians. Based in Worcestershire, the niche team offer legal aid services, and quality client care across a number of child protection areas.
An all-in-one cloud solution provides flexibility and freedom
Having separated from a larger firm in 2010, ChildCare LLP initially continued to share the same case management software, accounting services, and IT provider. Wanting control over their operations, the firm looked to switch systems in 2021, as Paul Gammon, director, explains, “We split from a larger firm in 2010 and brought across their IT systems, which was a bad experience.”
Nickie Wright, practice manager, expands, “The system was set up for the previous firm, which became problematic for us. We really wanted to have complete control over our IT infrastructure so we were fully independent.”
ChildCare LLP also had goals to become a paperless firm and implement a cloud-based system that provided their team with the flexibility to effectively work remote from their homes or in court, as Paul explains: “The biggest thing I wanted to achieve was to link all our IT processes and systems. We wanted a system where anyone could access what they needed from court, and which gave our fee earners flexibility for remote working.”
The firm’s old system was server-based, which meant they relied heavily on paper files. Paul continues, “We had to go through Citrix, so it wasn’t cloud-based and you couldn’t access anything remotely, which caused us a lot of problems. Now, we can do everything on the move”.
Nickie discusses how beneficial it’s been to her now everything is digitalised and connected: “We wanted to head down the paperless route and now everything we do is in Osprey Approach. All our emails, documents, court bundles, and time recordings are saved on the system and we hardly use paper at all.”
Preparation, being realistic, and guidance from experts is key to software success
For many firms, changing legal software solutions is a daunting process. ChildCare LLP went through fundamental changes across much of their operational structure, all at once, which they agreed was daunting, but with thorough planning, and advice from experts, they were quickly set up for success.
Nickie explains, “Our accountant recommended The Law Factory, and they – as well as our Lexcel auditor – recommended Osprey.” Paul adds, “It wasn’t essential that we had the recommendation, but it certainly helped. I thought we might need a project manager to run all the projects we had going on but Nickie did most of the heavy lifting alongside our IT consultants who worked closely with the Osprey support team.
“We made sure we prepared all our standards in advance and the data we needed to migrate to Osprey. We stayed focused and had support from various places.”
Nickie continues, “We had plenty of training with Osprey, and we can have refresher training with them at any time. All of the support team have been absolutely great and they respond really quickly.
“The fear of the unknown is a lot worse than the reality. With Osprey, we made sure we got to grips with the basics rather than overwhelming everybody doing it all at once. Once we mastered something we moved on to the next. The biggest thing is knowing what you want upfront and being able to relay that to Osprey.
“My advice to other firms is to implement new software in stages. Focus on your basic requirements and sort those first. And be realistic, because the case management software isn’t going to do all the hard work for you.”
Osprey improved efficiencies which improved the firm’s profitability
As a legal aid firm, profit margins are tight but ChildCare LLP focuses on streamlining processes to ensure an efficient operation. Paul says: “Our accountants are surprised by how profitable we are providing fixed fee services, which are among the lowest rates in the sector.
“But this is because of our systems and Osprey is part of that. We’re able to be really focused, sharp and efficient. Because we’re so efficient we can take on more work, and that makes us more profitable.”
Using Osprey, the firm has managed to automate and speed up tasks. Paul explains: “Previously we’d had to manually time record. I used to write out on a time record sheet and then Nickie used to input it, so it was a two person job. Now it’s become automatic and more accurate. It’s saved us at least an hour a day.”
“It also means we now have an accurate work in progress, which we didn’t have before,” adds Nickie. “That makes it easier for our costs draftsman because they know the data they have is accurate. And it’s helpful for our clients too because we must report current costs and forecasts to our legal aid clients every three months.”
ChildCare LLP has improved profitability further by reducing overhead costs. By going paperless, the team have greatly reduced printing costs. Paul reflects, “Previously I’d have gone to court in London with a printed court bundle file in lever arch files, which was an absolute nightmare. My favourite feature in Osprey is the easy access, digital court bundles.
“Now, we’re not buying paper, or printing much, and our photocopying charges have seriously reduced. We also don’t have to pay to store the archive files. Over the year, those savings really add up.
“I qualified in 1979 and was brought up on paper, so I struggled at first because it felt alien to me. But I surprised myself how quickly I adapted, and I think that’s a function of how good your system is.”
Empower your team with the right legal software that makes running your firm easier
Legal professionals often wear several hats when running a law firm, so leaning on technology helps to make running the day to day easier. Paul says, “Osprey helps us to manage all our regulatory requirements much more easily, because I’ve still got a day job to do and to earn fees, but I also wear other hats as the compliance office, anti-money laundering officer and so on. With this system, everything is in one place so it’s easier for me to manage, even when Nickie is away. It makes life easier because everyone has the peace of mind that things are accurate and where they should be.”