A case study from Legal Futures Associate Virtual Practices:
After nine years heading up his own firm, then merging with another and finally in 2010 returning to practice as a sole trader, Peter Felton of Feltons Law switched to the outsourced accounting and legal software services of Bath-based Virtual Practices and has never looked back.
The accounts are always up-to-date, time is accurately recorded and billed and performance reports are available regularly, at a fraction of the price of running any kind of system in-house.
Feltons Law specialises in litigation and all debt recovery matters. Peter Felton is well experienced in running a law firm and when making the switch to becoming a sole practitioner, recognised his own shortcomings in terms of posting items to the ledgers and keeping everything up to date. As said: “It was a lovely idea to think that I would spend my evenings writing up the books, but I also knew it would be very difficult to have the discipline to actually do it.”
He was well aware, too, of the cost of legal software solutions from his experience in a mid-sized firm, as well as the overheads involved in employing a legal cashier, which he did not want to do.
A search on the Internet for legal accounting software for small firms led him to Virtual Practices and their outsourced cashiering and legal software as a service. Virtual Practices simplifies back-office functions, including record-keeping and accounts-updating, as well as supporting fee-earners with integrated time recording, customer relationship management (CRM), matter and document management. The outsourced online legal cashiering service provides the reassurance that the accounts comply fully with Law Society regulations. The service is accessed via the Internet and paid for on a subscription basis.
Peter Felton got in touch with Virtual Practices and took part in a remote demonstration of the service. “For a sole practitioner, I found the service absolutely stunning and decided to sign up straight away.
“There was a eureka moment when I realised that Virtual Practices offered everything that I was looking for. I’m a lawyer and by letting them take care of the accounts, I realised that I was also entrusting that side of the business to a safe pair of expert hands.
“I find the staff fantastically helpful and you get continuity because you deal with the same people. I love the fact that postings I make online, are checked and posted to the ledger by legal cashiers. It is very reassuring to know that there is an experienced pair of eyes watching over you, so that mistakes are not made. They will also challenge me if something looks wrong. It is a real relief to know that the accounts are meeting the Solicitors Accounts Rules.”
Another aspect that is benefiting Feltons Law is time recording. As Peter Felton relates: “One of the biggest issues for many lawyers is time recording. Virtual Practices makes it easy, even for e-mails, and ensures that time is captured and billed accurately. The service is extremely cost-effective and is saving me money, reducing the time I spend on non-fee earning activities and the stress of compliance. I highly recommend Virtual Practices to any small practice. It’s a no-brainer.”
David McNamara, managing director of , the company behind Virtual Practices, said: “We designed and developed Virtual Practices to meet the particular needs of sole practitioners and smaller firms who want to maximise fee-earning time while minimising the time and effort spent on non-core activities. Today our groundbreaking service is now well-established and proven to be highly cost-effective as we hope Feltons Law will continue to experience.”
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