Bath, 17 December 2010 — When Temple Bright launched in March 2010, they shone out from the crowd as a different kind of law firm. Their goals were to reject any form of in-house IT function, opting instead for a cloud computing model, and to focus on innovating services for SME and entrepreneur clients. In less than a year, there are very encouraging signs of success with business performance running at three times the rate initially anticipated.
Formed by three lawyers including two from large international firms Simmons & Simmons and Herbert Smith, Temple Bright is geared to offer ‘City’ quality advice for growing businesses at reasonable prices especially in Bristol and the South West. Determined to practice law in a different way, Temple Bright has stripped away traditional overheads to deliver a highly IT-based, efficient operation which supports fixed/capped prices, wherever feasible.
When the three partners first got together they were already aware that the practice, document and case management needs of solicitors could be provided through software as a service. Choosing Virtual Practices, an established provider of outhosted legal software, offering SOS Connect in the cloud, gave Temple Bright access to modern, workflow based practice and case management software. As a hosted 24x7 solution, available via the Internet and paid for on a subscription basis, fee earners have instant access to caseloads at any time and from any place. Systems issues such as deciding on security, backing up data, networks and disaster recovery have all been taken out of the mix, again contributing to Temple Bright’s rapid success. The firm also takes advantage of the outsourced legal cashiering service provided by Virtual Practices. This simplifies keeping the books up-to-date and provides the reassurance that the accounts comply fully with Law Society regulations, without the expense of hiring a legal cashier.
So there is no IT department nor legal cashiers. And there are no juniors or support staff either, which is another characteristic which sets Temple Bright apart. Co-founder Tim Summers says: “The cloud computing model supports our goal to provide only senior, experienced lawyers at highly competitive rates. The fast on boarding, smooth IT operation and sophisticated software also helps to recruit and support other entrepreneurial lawyers wishing to become Temple Bright partners. In the first six months, the original three partners have already been joined by two other high calibre individuals.”
He continued: “Although the technology may be virtual, we are a bricks and mortar firm with offices in Bristol. However putting all our documents and processes in the cloud makes for a highly mobile and efficient workforce.”
The “seniors-only” model together with the comprehensive audit trail of transactions and users through Virtual Practices has brought benefits from a risk management point of view, too. “One of the more interesting benefits is that our low risk manifests itself in reducing the cost of our professional indemnity insurance.”
With Virtual Practices, help is always on hand to ensure that the software served up from the cloud is set up to meet individual needs. There are many options, providing Temple Bright with the level of flexibility needed to manage and enhance client service. The system has also proved easy to learn to use with access provided through additional buttons which appear on the familiar Outlook tool bar.
Fellow partner Justyn McIlhinney is pleased with the cost control that cloud computing delivers, too: “We have a very predictable cost model because we outsource everything and all partners make full use of the system. This has enabled us to take a progressive stance on pricing and move as much as possible to capped and fixed fee arrangements, while growing the business profitably. We were able to get the company going more rapidly and without a six figure investment in IT at the outset.”
In conclusion Tim Summers adds: “Cloud computing is very much in keeping with our reduced overhead business model. In today’s market with the impact of the Legal Services Act imminent, it is hard to see how the traditional law firm model is sustainable for owner managed businesses.”
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