Our Client Spotlight series features Thirdfort clients discussing current issues and how they are overcoming them through the use of technology.
In light of recent developments regarding COVID-19, more solicitors than ever are finding themselves having to adapt to working from home and are integrating technology into their processes. This week, we asked Kelly Fleming from SureMove Property Lawyers for her insights as to how to make the transition to remote working as smooth as possible, and for her opinion on what works for her firm.
How are you finding the transition to remote working?
All of our key staff had the option to work at home for the odd day anyway but duplicating this for the whole office in such a short space of time was challenging. We started implementing our contingency plan and testing the system two weeks before lockdown, so that by the time the guidelines were released, we were up and ready. It’s all about thinking on your feet and being adaptable – so our transition was relatively smooth.
How has technology aided this transition?
Being able to ID and verify source of funds via Thirdfort has enabled us to take on new work and process matters beyond the AML checks, which is going to be really important in coming months. This would be impossible without Thirdfort. We got on board with Thirdfort back in January, so are now totally confident with the process.
Our case management system allows us to work 100% electronically; emailing clients, keeping them updated via our portal, getting e-signatures. We are still missing our paper files, but that’s just because we like a tangible file – but we can continue to work using our case management remotely.
What are some ways your team stays connected?
We have regular Zoom meetings with staff, an office WhatsApp group for chit chat and email and make phone calls daily. Each senior member of staff takes it in turns to call each team member regularly. We have even had our usual Wednesday morning staff meeting today!
How have you adapted your risk and compliance systems and processes in light of Coronavirus?
We keep this constantly updated and refreshed every day. Our Contingency plan and How to Work from Home Guide page is now over 17 pages and 7000 words long! We’ve created lots of shared Excel spreadsheets so I can assess the status of the pipeline (i.e. abortive matters, quotes, completions, files ready to exchange but on hold because of lockdown etc).
So far, the biggest headache is keeping a clear picture of everyone’s workload. For this, the spreadsheets help. We also have phone stats so I can monitor calls coming in, and case management enables me to monitor workload and capacity. It’s important to support staff and ensure that they are not overloaded, as this leads to stress and potential negligence.
What advice would you give to other firms looking to integrate technology into their processes more?
If they have not considered it before, then now is the time. This is not a short-term issue, and may continue for many months, with restrictions lifted and then lockdown again. It’s not feasible to carry your paper files back and forth to the office, so we are abandoning paper files and working 100% electronically going forward.
Find out how you can use Thirdfort to remotely carry out ID and source of funds checks. Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.