North Yorkshire firm Coles turned to technology to make its services more accessible and affordable, explains Epoq, a Legal Futures Associate
Coles Solicitors, as the combined firms of Lauristons and David J Cole & Co became on 1 February 2007, is a radically modernising and rapidly expanding law firm based Northallerton in North Yorkshire, but serving a broad range of clients right across the UK. Specialising in personal injury, probate and conveyancing, the firm focuses on delivering 21st century legal services, but acknowledges its history and heritage.
Coles recognised that if it wanted to meet its strategic objective to expand the firm’s client base in terms of numbers and geography, it would need to make changes to the way it delivered its services. Specifically, Coles wanted to find a way to make its services more accessible and affordable to a wider range of clients, without incurring expensive IT development costs.
Following consultation with Epoq’s product and sales team, Coles chose to implement DirectLaw, a “virtual law” platform that enables law firms to offer online services to their clients, as well as improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of their document drafting process.
The first step was to create an online services web page and then seamlessly integrate it with Coles own website. This page provides an interface to a legal document library and Rapidocs, Epoq’s automated document assembly system, and enables clients to create a first draft of their legal document online at a time and place convenient to them. And, because the amount of law firm time spent on drafting documents is reduced, Coles is able to offer reduced rates, making the service more affordable for many clients.
Once completed by the client online, the draft document is then reviewed by a Coles’ solicitor and can be downloaded into Word to be amended if required. When the document has been approved by the solicitor, an e-mail will alert the client who can then retrieve the final document online.
The service offers a wide range of documents for both personal and business clients via Coles’ website (www.coles-law.co.uk), from wills and business start-up documentation to powers of attorney and debt recovery.
With regard to ease of implementation and affordability, as DirectLaw is provided as Software as a Service (SaaS), Coles could create its virtual law practice without any major capital investment and without having to develop complex software applications on its own. Furthermore, once Coles’ requirements for the web page had been agreed, the system took only seven days to implement.
Peter Gibson, Coles managing director and principal solicitor comments: “DirectLaw is allowing us to offer clients a 25% saving on our normal fees and, when you add to that the fact they can compile and edit documents at their own speed, in the comfort of their own home and at a time of their choosing, we think it’ll be a welcome addition to our more traditional range of services. Furthermore, the ability to offer a fixed price via the website removes the spectre of nasty unexpected bills at the end of the transaction and is seen as a big plus by many of our clients.
Through DirectLaw Coles’ clients are being offered the convenience and cost-effectiveness of 21st century legal services on demand, but with the reassurance that comes from dealing with a recognised, trusted and long-established provider. This has made Coles more competitive, more attractive to new clients and better able to manage changes in the legal services market.