Striving to Prosper – A real success story

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LawWare Case Study: Sneddon Morrison.

LawWare recently conducted a System Review meeting with Sneddon Morrison Solicitors and Estate Agents based in Whitburn, West Lothian. The firm consists of 5 branches, 7 Partners and 24 staff. It covers a mix of work types including property and family law for many private & local company clients.

They installed LawWare in 2007; after evaluating a number of Scottish software suppliers.

Eric Lumsden, a Partner at the firm takes up the story:

All the partners got to a point where we recognised that our ability to access information was not good enough for a modern-day law firm, plus there were some glaring inefficiencies which we needed to do something about. We implemented an IT strategy that started with the basic infrastructure of connecting everyone up to the same network and implementing a common set of standard Microsoft products, and then we set about selecting a new practice management system. Our key driver was ‘Better access to client and business information’ and we involved our Practice Manager Paul Ogilvie as well as a few of the Partners in our selection team.”

“We spoke to and looked at a number of software suppliers and were generally impressed. Despite the products themselves being similar on paper we could see during the presentations that they had different aims and would achieve different objectives. The suppliers themselves had a clear mix of viewpoints as well as different styles of conduct and we took all this into account. The decision we came to was based on how well we understood the software, how well we thought it would meet our needs and how well we thought we would be able to work with the people involved. LawWare scored highest on all these factors, plus we thought it was good value for money.”

“LawWare provided an electronic data transfer from our previous cashroom system which went very well and the changeover went extremely smoothly. We did anticipate some upheaval for a little while; but there was none at all! We don’t have any IT people and it is important that ‘ordinary’ staff can administer and operate the system, whether they be cashroom, lawyers or support staff and the system does operate very smoothly plus we manage it ourselves which is a great flexibility to have.

Most of this is dealing with document templates, they are amazingly easy to create and once done we re-use and re-use any number of times. It delivers so many benefits; from having the visibility of electronic case files (the e-mail management is brilliant) through automatic time recording to very advanced risk management – from both the practicing lawyer and the responsible partner perspective it really delivers in a dramatic fashion.”

Sneddon Morrison has been able to achieve a number of clear business benefits

and they are happy to share them LawWare clients and prospective clients:

  • They estimate that the degree of efficiency that they have yielded in dealing with case work is about 20%. Consequently, they have been able to not replace 3 support staff that left or retired over the last 12 months; saving 3 salaries.
  • They estimate that due to the automatic Time Recording Activities on all Company Client work and Private Client work in the areas of Family Law and Trust & Executry work – that they have increased Fee Revenue by 15% per annum. A substantial increase in turnover.
  • In the last 6 months they have been analysing the firm’s costs using the management reports section. They have saved £3,800 in annual consumables. Also identifying another £13,000 of annual costs which they believe can be substantially trimmed over the next 6 months.

In summary: they are firmly of the view that in the 18 months since they purchased LawWare Enterprise, the system has already paid for itself. All the Partners agree that is has been a thoroughly worthwhile investment.

The ultimate question was asked. Would you go back to working the previous way with Windows folders and separate systems holding bits of information?

“No way! Absolutely no way! We have been able to achieve real, tangible benefits –

  • For the firm: better supervision, standardisation of working practices across branches, more chargeable fees, better risk management.
  • For staff: work is more efficiently done. It’s easier to create letters and documents. All staff now have access to the ledgers.
  • For clients: there is no doubt that the turnaround time for work has improved.”

“In retrospect, the timing has been great for us we were able to put the system in place before we knew anything about the Credit Crunch and as a result it has probably been significantly easier for us to cope, but even so (knowing what I do now) if I had the same decision in front of me today I would unhesitatingly do it now.


I can’t imagine trying to be a law firm in the 21st Century without 21st Century IT systems. It’s hard going right now and will be for the foreseeable future; we want to both survive and prosper. The personal risks involved would not be worth it just to survive, all the Partners here want to build something of value, that isn’t linked to our physical presence – otherwise it has no potential value to anyone else! Having a ‘single system’ that underpins all the work, whether we are here or not, is an integral part of what we are building.”

The Partner responsible for IT at Sneddon Morrison is Eric Lumsden. You can contact him on 01501 740345 or erl@sneddons-ssc.co.uk

You can find out more about Sneddon Morrison at www.sneddonmorrison.com

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