By Legal Futures Associate Quill
In conversation with Tracey Longbottom and Hannah Paddock
Since the pandemic, law firms are much more comfortable with outsourcing their back-office administration functions – typing and transcription included. That’s because practice managers and owners have realised the advantages of uninterrupted support during a time when shielding, sickness, furloughing and lockdown commitments were causing serious disruption for businesses due to absent employees.
In our 19 May webinar, ‘Guide to managed transcription: How Quill Type works’, our Chairman Julian Bryan chatted with Tracey Longbottom, Sales Director at Document Direct – our professional partner for legal typing services – and Hannah Paddock, Solicitor-Director at Vanguard Law – long-time client of our Quill Type solution.
Here we summarise the main topics discussed by Tracey and Hannah during the webinar for those of you considering a strategic move to an outsourcing model for typing…
Watch the webinar
The growing legal industry trend towards outsourcing
Tracey: “Over the last decade, demand for outsourced support has risen exponentially, whether it’s IT managed services, hosting and helpdesk provision, cashiering and bookkeeping, digital post room, payroll or typing.
“With Covid came a need for businesses to operate more efficiently, remotely and cost effectively than ever before. Outsourced support fulfils this need along with delivering a host of additional benefits, continuous support amongst them. Although outsourcing may have been seen as ground-breaking ten or fifteen years ago, now it’s very much the norm.”
Hannah: “When I established Vanguard Law, I was a sole practitioner. At this stage in my career, outsourcing made perfect sense. There’s only so much one person can do and I had to focus on fee earning. I’ve used Quill Type from the outset. Even now, six years later, with eight solicitors, one paralegal and four legal assistants, we continue to utilise Quill’s service for all our typing.”
The emergence of centralised secretarial teams
Tracey: “Over the past two or three years, there’s been a welcome mindset shift from seeing secretaries as a status symbol with high ratios of circa two-to-one or three-to-one, to centralised teams of secretaries instead. In this scenario, they’re shared resources that can be flexed up and down according to requirements. This is exactly how Quill Type runs.
“Quill Type offers very specific value-added secretarial support comprising mainly: (1) document production and (2) transcription of audio and video collateral. We can even create electronic bundles for court and reformat existing documents into a different style. No typing job is too big or too small.
“For the first of these, document production, we work closely with the Quill Forms package and DocsHub document management system. Essentially, this means we can produce any document and even upload straight into the relevant matter folder within the Quill software environment. For the Quill Forms element, typing is charged at the standard audio rate unless reformatting is needed; which is unusual. Our service is efficiency personified.”
Hannah: “By not doing any typing in-house and relying wholly upon Quill Type, everyone’s typing gets done at the same speed – no matter our fee earners’ busyness, seniority or loudness of voice – and turnaround times are speedy.
“There’s none of the usual begging, borrowing and stealing by employees lower down the pecking order to get their typing done ahead of partners which can happen in some practices. In its place, priority work is done in an hour with four hours as standard.
“Our legal assistants can focus on the tasks we can’t outsource such as dealing with client queries and staff requests, for example arranging alcohol and drug testing for legal aid matters.
“Quill Type even created a set of document templates – something we simply wouldn’t have had the time for, and which happened without any effort on our part. As a result, our documents are uniform within our specialised templates.
“I regularly review our systems and procedures to ensure we’re operating effectively. Whenever I do the maths associated with bringing our typing back internally, the figures just don’t add up. It’s outsourcing all the way.”
Top tips for frictionless outsourcing
Tracey: “When firms are thinking of outsourcing, one of the biggest barriers is removing the comfort blanket of having a secretary sat at an adjoining desk. Covid changed perceptions around this as we were suddenly all working remotely from our homes anyway. Because of this, the cultural impact of outsourcing is perceived as much less than it used to be.
“At Quill Type, we introduce our services in as frictionless a manner as possible by engaging key stakeholders, making the whole process transparent and setting expectations from the beginning.”
Hannah: “Causing friction wasn’t a problem for Vanguard Law as there was only myself as a sole practitioner in the early days. Anyone who comes on board as an employee knows we work with Quill Type so it’s a non-issue.
“New recruits who are wary of outsourced typing immediately see the benefits – even our legal assistants who feel they can add more to the business by not having to deal with typing tasks. As secretaries typically spend up to three-quarters of their time on typing, this time can be redirected to more business-critical activities.”
Why switch to outsourced typing support?
Tracey: “Unbelievably, lots of prospective clients we speak with are still using tape recorders and other physical recording devices. Quill Type makes the lives of fee earners so much easier as it swaps this old hardware for modern technology in the form of a free-to-download smartphone app. It can be used anytime, anywhere, on Android/iPhone/Google devices with recordings sent securely straight to the Quill Type bureau and documents returned in as little as an hour.”
Hannah: “I started out in law with dictaphones on the desk, upgraded to hand-held dictation machines and now use an app on my mobile. These days, everything is on your phone so it totally suits the modern lifestyle.”
Tracey: “Aside from our advanced, easy-to-use technology, there’s a raft of reasons to outsource. To name a few – law firms are taking the opportunity to use technology better to promote smarter ways of working, office space is becoming ever-more expensive and increasingly redundant, secretaries are taking on paralegal-type roles thereby negating the need for typing within the business, there’s rising client demand for a more responsive service, qualified typing resource is scarce so recruitment can be tricky, there’s pressure to become leaner in light of tougher marketplace competition and, last but not least, regulation requires practices to undertake vigorous vetting procedures at short notice which is challenging in-house.
“For these combined reasons, law firms of all shapes and sizes are embracing outsourcing. Document Direct’s clients range from the Top 100 to sole practitioners, and from umbrella consultancies like Gunnercooke to traditional corporates like Hill Dickinson.
“Quill Type works to your unique processes. We offer 24/7 support with no premium for out-of-hours or urgent requests, services are scaled to demand on a pay-as-you-use basis, it’s easy to use the app and there’s integration with the Quill software suite, output is of the highest quality with a 99.8% accuracy promise, and our lower costs mean higher profits with cost savings of up to 60%.”
Confidentiality is a concern – how does Quill Type address this?
Tracey: “We’re often asked ‘where is my data stored?’ and ‘Where are your secretaries based?’ I answer that our secure data centres and secretaries are located at sites across the UK.
“In terms of confidentiality and conflicts, our secretaries all have legal experience and undergo strict induction. We’re accredited to multiple ISO standards which gives assurance that our systems are locked down, everything’s audited and securely accessed, and secretaries allocated once conflict checks are carried out.”
Hannah: “As a heavily regulated profession, you have to choose a trusted outsourcing supplier. Perform the right checks and you can’t go wrong. In terms of confidentiality, due to the fact Quill Type secretaries aren’t likely to live near your clients, this separation takes away the problem of local secretaries doing the typing for local work and potentially knowing the parties involved.”
Can Quill Type cater for seasonality?
Tracey: “As Sales Director, I obviously prefer clients who use our services in the same way as Vanguard Law – for all their typing. Invariably though, questions arise about short-term sickness, long-term maternity, overflow support and similar types of temporary cover. We can absolutely help law firms who find themselves in these predicaments. We don’t ask for any minimum commitment or minimum volume. The overheads are very low and there are no set up fees. We can facilitate any support, be it temporary or permanent.”
Getting started with Quill Type
Quill Type is easy and surprisingly quick to implement. Call us on 0161 236 2910, email email@example.com or visit www.quill.co.uk/services/outsourced-legal-typing-service to learn more about timings, costs and installation procedures.