A case study in the application of modern legal software technology

Formed in the 1870’s Mason Baggott & Garton specialise in Conveyancing, Criminal and Family Law. Operating from their four offices across North Lincolnshire the firm used PC networks and basic practice accounting and case management systems for a number of years.

Although these served them well the firm realised that in this competitive world their current IT systems were holding them back in terms of internal efficiency and in being able to offer clients a higher level of service. Their quest to improve in both of the areas mentioned led them to the decision that they would need to change from their existing IT provider. After an exacting and exhaustive selection process the firm chose Linetime Limited as their preferred software supplier.

A major factor in Linetime’s favour was the ability, via their Liberate software suite, to provide an integrated practice and case management system built around a single relational (SQL) database. This helps improve operational efficiency, as data only needs entering once, but can be used many times. As a ’full service’ provider Linetime were also able to deliver associated products and services in the e-mail, web access and firewall/virus protection areas. User application training and data conversion completed the Linetime offer. The successful implementation of Liberate Practice and Case Management system has brought many benefits to Mason Baggott & Garton.

For example the use of pre-defined procedures and the document precedent bank within Liberate Case Management has ensured that work produced anywhere in the practice is consistent in appearance and of a high quality. From the partner’s perspective this allows greater control in areas such as risk management, whilst from the fee-earners perspective the pressures in producing standard (often repetitive and mandatory) documentation is removed, allowing them to focus on the legal aspects of their work. Mason Baggott & Garton clients everywhere receive a consistently high level of service and excellent value for money.

In addition to their private client work the firm also services several mortgage brokers. To help service this competitive ‘ bulk conveyancing’ market Mason Baggott & Garton communicate with these brokers via the STARS interface which is supported by the Liberate package.

To further develop in the internet area Mason Baggott Garton are considering the use of the complementary Linetime web access module - Liberate Online. Using this software suitably authorised third parties can send new instructions and monitor case progress over a secure Internet connection. This reduces the need for repetitive telephone calls and lessens the risk of errors caused by misunderstandings. The brokers need no special software to access their case details, just a standard PC with Internet access.

It was recognised by both Linetime and Mason’s that the introduction of any new computer system is often met with a certain amount of trepidation and resistance. Working closely together to create an individualised training plan was key to the success of the project. Liz Turner, Practice Manager ‘The training was vital to help our staff understand and have confidence in the new system and, where necessary, adapt our working practices’.

The firm recently underwent an assessment from Investors In People and was delighted to receive feedback that highlighted how positive staff felt about the new solution. The whole firm have embraced the new system and are delighted with the way Liberate assists them in their daily work. Liz Turner again ‘People no longer fear and dread new IT systems or system changes, but actually look forward to the improved efficiencies and working methods’.

The forward thinking firm do not see the installation of the Liberate system as the end of their IT investment. ‘We recognise it is vital to maintain a close working relationship with our software supplier. This is important for both day-to-day support and ongoing system development’ stated John Mason, Senior Partner. ‘We are very pleased with the systems supplied, the post-sales support and the on-going relationship we have with Linetime. We view this latter point as key’.

John Burrill, Chairman, Linetime ‘Linetime value greatly the relationship with Mason Baggott & Garton and recognise the major part they have played in this success of the project thus far. Projects of this nature and scope need a partnership approach, and we are pleased to be a part of this project’.