Branching out on your own can be fraught with pitfalls and when solicitor Patrick J Taylor decided to swap the rigours of a top 500 law firm to set up his own specialist commercial litigation consultancy, he turned to Virtual Practices  from Legal Futures Associate (SOS) for IT, legal cashiering and accounting services.
Delivered from the cloud, Virtual Practices reduces the start-up overheads of a new business by replacing the need for in-house IT systems with a fully functioning and feature-rich case, practice and document management system, available from an Internet connection, anytime and anywhere. Virtual Practices also ensures that the accounts are not only up-to-date but guaranteed to meet the Solicitors Accounting Rules.
After contemplating the change for about two years, Mr Taylor set up in August to provide a high-quality specialist litigation legal services to private individuals, businesses and other law firms. He is also a commercial and civil mediator.
“The service model is based upon a close lawyer and client working relationship, rather like being an extension of the management team. And although due to demand a new associate has already joined me, the aim is to run a very ‘skinny’ operation. Virtual Practices is the fibre which acts at the centre of everything from administration, time recording, matter and document management through to the accounts, key performance indicators and management reports.
“Above all I gain the reassurance that there is someone watching over us and ensuring that we don’t make mistakes. This was a big issue for me, when as a senior partner in a large firm, I was used to these things being done for me.”
Once signed up for Virtual Practices, a simple questionnaire is completed to personalise the functionality to the required style of operation. “I am a very instinctive person, and after a demonstration, I felt very comfortable with the Virtual Practices service. I particularly liked the close way of working from within Outlook, which is far superior to the big systems I have used in the past.”
Now three months on, Patrick Taylor’s enthusiasm remains: “This is a good system and represents excellent value for money, especially as I do not need to employ a legal cashier. The people at Virtual Practices have really assisted me and I’m happy that I made the right choice. The only advice I have for others is that with hindsight I wish I had done the training closer to going live!”
Natalie Jennings, who heads up Virtual Practices, said: “As one of the very first to offer legal software and cashiering as services, we enable our clients to get on with the job of providing legal advice and services without worrying about capital investment in IT, or meeting mandatory accounting and reporting requirements.”