QualitySolicitors Abney Garsden is a multi-disciplinary practice, with specialist teams managing family, accident, probate and abuse cases. The firm’s abuse claims department is acknowledged as the UK leader and its use of Case Management software led to the practice being awarded the Claims Technology Awards 2010 accolade for ‘Most Innovative use of Software’.
Peter Garsden, Senior Partner of QualitySolicitors Abney Garsden , talks us through his experience of Proclaim.
Why did you initially choose Proclaim?
Work with child abuse cases is extremely complex, and our move into group actions magnified this. We really needed a software platform that would enable us to manage huge volumes of information and progress cases with impeccable accuracy.
Our requirements were challenging, and most suppliers that we spoke to would shake their heads and declare that the multi-level demands we were placing on them were too onerous for most systems in the market. Fortunately we happened to meet up with Eclipse Legal Systems, and the firm’s Proclaim system seemed to offer the flexibility that we required to build a system to our exacting specifications.
How have you tailored Proclaim in line with your specific requirements?
We set to work on tailoring Proclaim to our needs, using the software’s in-built toolkit. Thankfully the vast majority of Proclaim’s building blocks are available in a ‘drag and drop’ format, so actually putting the system together was much less arduous than we had imagined. The project was an involved one, and necessitated as a first step the transferral of our existing bank of precedent documentation into Proclaim. Its document management features are straightforward to use (if you can use MS Word, then you’re away!) and this encouraged us to dig deeper into the system and get to grips with its more advanced features.
We created a system containing truly bespoke data screens, containing only the relevant field types that we required. From here, we were able to use the Proclaim engine to design bespoke workflow processes to progress matters, taking into account the ‘group action’ structure which is utterly vital. In particular, ongoing automatic reminders to take certain steps when different events occur are incredibly important, as we have a complicated system of assessing time delay and limitation. The majority of our cases are already out of time, so acting expeditiously is fundamental.
Being able to network cases and claimants together is hugely beneficial to us ? we have tailored Proclaim so that corroboration of allegations between different claimants is possible, and The Legal Services Commission also demands it in our applications for public funding. Whenever a new case is accepted, a search for similar allegations by other victims is incredibly useful, and has transformed our internal intelligence.
What day-to-day benefits do you see from Proclaim?
Given the volume of documentation that can be linked to our cases, the ability to adapt to a practically paperless office environment is priceless. Incoming documentation is all scanned into the relevant cases to form a complete history, and document production is heavily automated using Proclaim’s intelligent data merge facilities. Given the time savings in terms of letter production, and the ability to rapidly search across the database for information (e.g. cross-checking abuser and carehome details), we have been able to reduce our fee earner to secretary ratio to 1 secretary shared between 2 fee earners.
Proclaim’s integrated report builder tool allows us to gather information on any item, or combination of data. For instance, we may need to know details of other abuse at the same carehome as the client, or find medical experts within a certain radius of the client?s address. At one point we had to produce a report for the court for each group claimant with details of his/her abuser, type of abuse, dates of abuse, case number, etc, so that it could analyse common issues for the claimants. Proclaim managed this effortlessly and the report could be reproduced at the push of a button. The time saved must have amounted to at least 75 hours in comparison to being done manually, or a cost saving of well over ?10,000.
Given that our cases are funded by the LSC, Proclaim’s ability to, for example, automatically manage applications for financial increases is of great benefit. Not only does the Case Management side look after applications, but we also use Proclaim Accounts which ably manages LSC funding as distinct from other monies related to our other case work (e.g. our probate caseloads).
How well is Proclaim aligned with the QualitySolicitors Abney Garsden ethos?
Our work is done on behalf of extremely vulnerable individuals, and it is our ethos to do our utmost for them in terms of delivering the right outcome. Money is unfortunately not unlimited though, and we have to do our work within the bounds of justifiable expenditure. Our Case Management software helps us to do this ? it saves countless hours of time in running group actions, and we can demonstrate to the court that any administrative work (and cost) is kept to an absolute minimum.
The value of Proclaim cannot be overstated. The system is vital to us in driving our cases to successful outcome, and it makes excellent use of resource allowing us to concentrate on what’s really important, not on just managing IT.