ABS launches desktop tool linking it to big clients

Byrne: ABS has been central to growth of business

An alternative business structure (ABS) has launched a dedicated case management software tool aimed at integrating large company HR departments with its employment law offering.

MyHRCases is the brainchild of ESPHR, an HR consultancy which launched itself as an ABS in 2015 in order to add reserved legal activities to its extensive list of unregulated services.

The cloud-based software enables clients in corporate HR teams to escalate an in-house matter to ESPHR’s solicitors with a single mouse click and provides a secure means of communicating documents back and forth between the two.

ESPHR, whose business operates various service packages based on a fixed annual subscription – including an option which includes unlimited tribunal representation and case management – guarantees subscribing clients 24/7 legal advice with a one-hour response time.

Chief executive Peter Byrne said the “trigger” for developing the software came from client demand, because what they wanted above all was “visibility and transparency” over legal spend.

“Our customers can see how we are investing in their businesses in terms of the advisory hours, but more importantly they are seeing a whole window on their ER world.

“They can look at the application and see, in real-time, exactly all of their cases that they are working on… and where they have instructed us.”

He argued that the traditional legal advisory relationship “actually drives a real wedge between HR teams and their legal partners”, adding: “HR has often conditioned itself to actively not seek advice from law firm partners, to avoid expensive hourly rate pricing models.”

ESPHR has five lawyers on staff (it is about to take on a sixth) and a team of other lawyers on its books so it can meet fluctuating demand. All were formerly with City firms and have a minimum 10 years of post-qualification experience.

It has targeted the “return-to-work mums market” for its lawyers, according to Mr Byrne, who founded the company in 2003. Upon joining they are installed in “professional home offices”.

He said the ABS had been “central to the continued growth of the business… It’s taken us into markets that we wanted to target for many years, and been central to our success in winning the type of customers that our business model is geared to support”.

Mr Byrne said the subscription model helped build deep personal relationships between lawyers and clients, explaining: “HR don’t feel under pressure that they’ve got to make a quick ‘phone call, my legal team are under no pressure from a billing target perspective, and they are not expected to win new business.

“They do one thing and one thing only: that is to give advice to a high-quality set of customers and their in-house HR and ER teams.”

The business counts Ladbrokes Coral Group – which it claimed to have saved “thousands in legal fees” – and global fashion brand PVH among clients.

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