Just Costs is the UK’s largest solicitors’ costs practice, focusing solely on recovery for claimant personal injury firms and commercial organisations.
The firm was founded – and is led – by Paul Shenton, a qualified barrister and solicitor who gained experience in a range of high profile cases whilst a Partner for nine years at national heavyweight, Eversheds Sutherland.
Paul talks us through his experience of Proclaim, and how the system has grown with his practice.
At Just Costs, the aim is to meet and anticipate our clients’ requirements by providing a comprehensive, individually tailored solution. This premise is not just sales talk – we are prepared to guarantee our services so that the stresses associated with costs are completely removed. As a solicitors practice, we can even collect the settlement monies for our clients and send it via BACS directly to their accounts… a complete end-to-end solution.
To match these bold service claims, we need watertight internal organisation, and the ability to track and report upon every aspect of every case. It is not enough to provide just a ‘fast’ service; overlooked elements such as management reporting, access to in-depth case statistics, and slick (even instant) client communications are crucial.
… The Solution
As Just Costs started to grow, I knew that investment in a dedicated case management software system would be essential. I approached Eclipse Legal Systems to take a look at its Proclaim solution. A positive demonstration was affirmed by glowing reports from peers in the industry, and I was moved to place an order for the system just days after our initial meeting. Proclaim integrates a core case management database with word processing, document management, reporting and diary facilities to provide a complete desktop solution to the working needs of file handlers and negotiators.
Many costs firms still do not use case management systems, and find themselves struggling to offer a fast and efficient service to their clients. For example, generating relevant management information without a computerised system and consistent processes must be nigh-on impossible. I saw our investment in Proclaim as a real boost not only to internal procedures, but also in strengthening our pitches for new business.
From an initial implementation of Proclaim for just 14 staff, Just Costs has now expanded to 90 people, all using Proclaim. The system has been invaluable in enabling swifter case progression, monitoring key statistics and performance indicators, and strengthening relationships with our clients.
Since day one of implementation, we have been using Proclaim to offer a superior costs service, measured by the amount of costs recovered and the speed of this recovery. Features such as having all cases centralised so that relevant case handlers can work on each others’ files (e.g. during holiday periods) are invaluable. In addition, the ability to automatically generate management reports on a weekly basis – with no human intervention – means that we can provide up-to-date information on details such as settlement figures to help clients maximise their cashflow.
Using the system’s inbuilt toolkits, we have been able to tailor Proclaim to provide bespoke functionalities in terms of how we wish to run and monitor our cases. For example, a sophisticated rebuttal engine is enabled by the use of a ‘twin screen’ system, the first screen displaying case file data within Proclaim, the second screen displaying a library of the latest costs rulings and judgements which fee earners can access instantly for negotiation purposes.
Seamless File Transfer
A key element of our Proclaim system is the way in which it can provide a ‘virtual contact’ with business partners and complementary organisations. Just Costs offers a free ‘file pick up’ service for clients, using our own vehicles and drivers to ensure speed and security. However, when we forged a relationship with another Proclaim user in early 2006, this spurred an investigation into electronic file transfer methods.
Following some internal development work using Proclaim’s import / export toolkit, we created a routine to enable clients to send files to us automatically via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) as soon as they were settled. This meant that our fee earners could commence work immediately; there was effectively zero lead time.
This was a huge advantage in enabling us to provide a seamless and lightning-quick service for our clients. Since then we have rolled out this file import service as standard, and we now receive over 40% of all files electronically. For our clients, being able to hit a button and instantly send their files to be costed is invaluable. The speed advantages are obvious, but little things such as being able to keep control of the file (which in the ‘old days’ would have physically left the premises) just in case extra work is needed, are extremely convenient for them.
Proclaim enables Just Costs to offer a state-of-the art service by focusing on those things critical to a firm’s financial performance – speed of information transfer and speed of costs recovery. To reiterate the firm’s philosophy, Proclaim provides the solid foundation from which Just Costs can completely remove the stresses associated with costs recovery for our clients.