Bringing Legal Services Up To Date

Legal Services Act 2007

legal1The legal industry is going through a period of intense transformation, with profit margins under ever-increasing pressure from clients, competitors and legislators. The Legal Services Act is driving the creation of new entrants and services into the market, with big brands such as the AA, the Co-operative Group and BT now able to own and run legal companies for the first time.

The legal system in England & Wales hadn’t changed for 300 years, the Legal Services Act 2007 introduced a new level of competition within the legal services industry that will increase and result in wider access to justice. With new entrants to the market, the changes will also provide wider access to a commercial environment that is more accustomed to developing cost-effective legal services.

Unique Requirements

The legal profession has specialist workflows, a dependency on paper and unique information processes, which makes its needs very specific. Firms are obliged to keep documents for certain periods of time and are beholden to strict regulations around data protection and storage.

Failure to correctly manage data can lead to heavy fines for non-compliance, reputational loss and legal action from clients. New European data protection laws introduced in March 2015 mean that companies found in breach of users’ personal data rights will also risk heavy fines.

However, by allowing new powerful entrants to the market smaller high-street law firms will be exposed to competition that is already well established with greater capabilities and existing retail presence. It seems that outdated and outmoded business practices will be squeezed out by the entry of new providers, and so traditional firms may use the Act as a catalyst for change to the way they operate.

legal5An obvious sign of change will be the disappearance of clerks wheeling in barrow loads of papers; all documents will be available, on computer through the Digital Case System, to all members of the court. The present, numerous, bundles of documents will be replaced by a single electronic bundle that can be displayed on a large screen in court. The government is pushing these changes by investing £700+ million in the digital system and judges are encouraging documents to be presented in digital form.

It, therefore, follows that both new providers and traditional firms will have to be prepared to present their documentation in the way that will be expected. This will mean having the right systems and equipment to digitise potentially large volumes of documents.

Archiving

Archiving of documents is already a common office function indexing, archiving and ready access to information is a key requirement but it is not unusual for firms to encounter problems with hard copy document storage & retrieval. Many solicitors will be familiar with a story of a missing paper file, the content of which is key to the matter in hand and the implications of non-accessibility are serious.

Large firms may have the scale, volume of work and profitability to create their own technology-led solution to their file archiving requirements. However, many smaller firms continue to rely on the conventional storage and retrieval services that were created before the technology and digital revolution took place The actual cost of these archives is often not fully appreciated, both in terms of physical office space or the resource spent filing, searching for and retrieving documents. Physical archives are also at greater risk of being destroyed or damaged. To move these smaller firms on may require guidance in order to take advantage of modern technology giving them access to the same functionality, efficiency and cost savings of larger firms.

Paper-Free?

Whilst a paperless society is unlikely ever to exist the current initiative will boost the uptake and acceptance of digital documents and firms need to be ready; either with systems to incorporate documents produced digitally or from scanned originals to then create ‘digital bundles’ to present in court.

legal2For more general applications within a legal practice, whatever the reason for requiring the data, instant access to the information and knowledge contained within a file would be an ideal requirement for many firms. Not only would this save time and minimise risk but it would also reduce costs, increase profitability and allow a more efficient service to clients. The latter being an important differentiator in competitive times.


Saving money 

The digital age now allows scanning and imaging of files within the firm with the latest equipment and software. Whilst all the options available can seem daunting, with right advice leading to the right solution many tasks can be simplified and automated.

A digital system will mean you need not be subjected to cost of on-site or, worse, off-site storage with the ongoing retrieval costs.  You will no longer have to wait for files to be collected and sent back to your offices. Even when the boxes of hard copy data are located and delivered back to the office someone still has to go through the box, searching  files and papers to find the required, relevant piece of information.  This compared to the touch of a button illustrates the potential for massive time and cost savings and data security.
Final Note

Many companies that have made the switch to digitisation still believe they are legally bound to archive hard copies when many regulators accept electronic records that are created and stored in-house. These records will also be legally admissible in court if scanned to British Standard BS10008:2008. Firms that keep paper copies ‘just in case’, need to be aware that keeping records beyond the legal requirement is not compliant with the Data Protection Act and exposes their businesses to legal liability.

Here to Help

With a range of multi-functional printers, printers, scanners and various software solutions ITQ have the flexible solutions and the knowledge and experience to help you determine your digital document pathway. Helping you streamline your business taking account of legislation and British Standards whilst making your firm more efficient and saving you money, to find out how ITQ can be of assistance please contact us on 01635 874848 or check out the web.

What does your Font Cost?

Inside A.S. Watson Fortress And Watsons Stores As Temasek Diversifies From China Banks With Hutchison Whampoa's Retail Arm

One of the most common fonts used in business is Times New Roman, but is it the most cost effective?

A bit of history first.

Times New Roman was designed in 1932. The Times newspaper introduced it in response to a criticism about its newspaper being printed badly and typographically behind the times. In response, The Times commissioned a typeface design company to improve the newspaper’s “economy of space” and “legibility”. The resulting design, Times New Roman, is based on the Plantin typeface redesign of 1913, the original design of which goes back to the 16th century Garamond typeface. Times New Roman is appropriate for reading plain texts such as contracts as it has a firm authoritative ‘look and feel’

The alternative, therefore, is Garamond. The design that is currently in use was originally designed in the mid sixteenth century. This member of the Roman type family has survived the centuries because of its remarkable readability. As one of the oldest typefaces, Garamond conveys a sense of solid tradition, yet is still soft and attractive thanks to its elegantly rounded serifs and its diagonally emphasised strokes.

Whilst what font you use may be a matter of individual taste or company policy have you ever considered the relevant cost of using a particular font? I would guess not.

A recent study in the US carried out by a 14-year-old student details how the U.S. government could save about $234 million a year by simply switching the type of font that is used on printed documents.

In his study, young Suvir Mirchandani, found that Garamond is a more efficient font than Times New Roman for printing. This is because Garamond uses thinner strokes for its letters, meaning less ink or toner is used on each character.

He found that the saving by switching fonts would amount to 29%. Based on his research and randomly choosing an HP cartridge (an HP301XL) with an average page cost of 5p (based on HP pricing and yield), changing font you could save almost 1.5p per page or over £7 for every ream of paper you use.

This research may have been done by a young man with too much time on his hands but it is certainly worth bearing in mind.

If you would like to see how ITQ could make substantial savings on your printing/copying download our white paper.

Streamline Your Scanning

PinPoint Scanning

When it comes to scanning, PinPoint Scan gives users more options and more control when scanning from your ITQ multi-functional device.

This Kyocera-developed business application lets you choose the exact destination for your scan, it’s highly secure, SSL-encrypted, and subject to user-assigned PIN codes and restrictions.

With PinPoint Scan you can define your own scan destinations, whether they are folders on your PC, an e-mail address or even an application that is automatically opened.

PinPoint Scan is remarkably easy to set up: first, install a small application on your PC, then define your personal PIN code and preferred scan destinations. On the MFP simply enter your PIN code and immediately see all your previously defined scan destinations directly on the control panel of the MFP.

  • Scan to folder – Save the scanned file directly on your desktop or in any folder on your PC.
  • Scan to email – Simply send the scanned document in a new email to your email address.
  • Scan to application – Send the document to applications supporting PDF files.

Users can define and change their personal scan settings by themselves in a user-friendly menu. Fast and easy – The intuitive installation and interface guarantee that anyone can operate the application without difficulty.

From Scanning to Workflow ITQ offers a wide range of applications to streamline scanning for any business from small to large. With Pinpoint Scan, users can easily scan to their PC which makes scanning faster and easier. Other solutions offer OCR, barcode recognition and advanced features for workflow automation and full document management.

Talk to ITQ to find out how we can improve your efficiency and save costs.

Tel: 01635 874848

Solutions looking for a problem

Technology seems to get smarter everyday running ahead of us mere mortals, how often have you seen something that looks brilliant but had no idea how you would make use of it.

A major manufacturer has recently developed erasable toner, so you start with a copy or print and end up with a blank sheet of paper. Mmm …

It’s fashionable to sneer at the idea that a particular technology is merely a solution looking desperately for a problem to justify its existence. But developing a solution is unlikely to be a rational process, it’s more dynamic and interactive than starting with a problem and moving dispassionately to a solution.

As you contemplate new technologies and scan all those problems currently faced by your business to see whether you can find an application to help what you inevitably end up with is a load of solutions looking for problems and you still have your problems.

The problem is without a dedicated team checking out what is available and how they match up you may never discover ‘your solution’. You can wait until you have a new problem to solve and then sift through each of the currently available technologies to find the most appropriate solution but then what about all the current solutions in place, would they work, and what about the ones you didn’t find.

Checking out existing problems yourself to see whether new solutions will fit is fine. But is it cost effective and will it give the best result? Also beware of inventing or reshaping a problem to fit your latest found solutions.

Solution vendors on the other hand will, naturally, have more experience of many businesses and should be aware of many more available and suitable solutions. Vendors are also, probably, easier to find and may even find you. They will have seen how the solution has developed and what it’s future is.

Talking to a vendor then makes sense but the thought of inviting a ‘salesman’ in may fill you with dread. The last thing they want is to be ‘sold to’.  But is this attitude short-sighted and outdated? Your vendor should be a trusted partner to you and your business, someone you have a relationship with or can provide impeccable references having had experience in the area you are looking for a solution for.

Unless you have the time and resources to search for a solution to your problem we would, obviously, recommend this route and obtain the services of a company such as ITQ. We have years of experience ourselves, dedicated staff looking for the ‘next big thing’ and a wealth of knowledge from a wide range of clients and suppliers. And all this is free to you whereas the wrong solution found yourself could be very costly.

http://www.imagethroughquality.com