Wedlake Bell optimises support by utilising BigHand Workflow to gain operational visibility amid the Global Pandemic


Wedlake Bell, a London-based firm with 70 partners and over 170 lawyers and support staff, prides itself on delivering the best service to its clients, and has maintained its excellent service delivery, despite challenges arising due to COVID-19, thanks to BigHand’s legal workflow solution acting to streamline task management and underpin the entire lawyer-support staff working model.   

David Hymers, head of IT at the firm explains, “Similar to other firms we've had to quickly adapt to working en masse at home. Despite this change and with flexible working hours in place, our lawyers are still receiving excellent support from their secretaries – a service which is efficient, streamlined and easy to optimise thanks to BigHand Now.”

The legal-specific workflow solution provides an effective way to manage work throughout the firm, by ensuring the right tasks are delegated to the right skilled resource, at the right cost to the firm, with all instructions gathered upfront.

Sandra Pawley, business engagement IT specialist at Wedlake Bell considers the technology’s capability to help firms at this time, “Firms need a way to track work and avoid billing write offs that might occur from lawyers being over utilised with non-billable admin, and secretaries being underutilised as a result. BigHand can solve that problem.”

The original drivers for implementing BigHand Now were to streamline and make more efficient the way work was delegated to the business support teams.

Sandra comments, “David and I are members of the firm's Innovation Committee and from time to time the topic of support staff utilisation had arisen during meetings. We knew anecdotally that on one side of the spectrum, one secretary might receive all their work from one or two lawyers, and on the other end, another might be receiving work from up to 10 lawyers. We wanted to understand the volume and progress of tasks, as well as staff capacity, and BigHand Now provided that visibility.”   

BigHand worked with Wedlake Bell to complete the firm-wide rollout to more than 230 users in a phased approach.

“We initially thought lawyer adoption would be a problem.” David adds. “But it really helped that we only needed a simple upgrade from our existing BigHand system, making training requirements very minimal, so the lawyers could see the overall value from the offset.”

With the technology fully rolled out the firm’s initial adoption was high, with up to 200 tasks per day / 4,000 tasks per month being captured through BigHand Now. Work captured using dictation also increased by 2,000 records per month. These tasks were previously invisible to the firm, hidden away in email or by face-to-face delegation, with no way of tracking the work.

Looking to the future, as social distancing measures start to be lifted, the workflow technology is well placed to help with the transition back to office-working, and to provide much needed data to inform law firms on what their optimal structure is to support the firm’s needs.

David concludes, “Before the pandemic there was a reluctance to let legal support staff work from home, but now it has been proven that remote-working is effective regardless of your role. It would not surprise me if we see a shift towards a hybrid of part-office part-home working, and technologies like BigHand Now can help to optimise those scenarios by ensuring physical work is sent to those in the office, and other tasks to those at home. Having technology in place to manage these changes to working environments will be essential for law firms.”

“For Wedlake Bell, BigHand Now helps to make everyone’s lives easier by providing vital visibility into task delegation, progress and management, ultimately improving the service offered to our lawyers and clients. Crucially though, the aggregated data we now have access to ensures senior management are armed with the operational insight they need to make integral business decisions to secure the future of the firm.”

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