When Ogier Leman Solicitors LLP set itself a goal of going paperless, there were no half measures. All of the firm’s 70 staff are encouraged to use multiple monitors on their desks to review and mark up electronic documents instead of hard copies. There are tightly restricted quotas on the number of pages everyone can print. Its office is free of files and folders by design.
That makes the firm an outlier in a sector that still relies heavily on paper documents, where it’s a common sight to see barristers carrying folders and heavy briefcases in the courts. But since Ogier Leman was founded in 2007, it has aimed to be Ireland's most innovative law firm. It was the first Irish legal firm to go fully paperless, and it offers clients online access to their files.
To make these bold aims work, the firm invests heavily in technology, as Managing Director of LexTech, Ogier Leman’s legal technology sister company, Karl Manweiler explains.
“We’ve always realised that by investing in IT as a strategic business resource, that would increase the firm’s productivity and efficiency – and ultimately enable it to grow. We’ve always embraced technology where it’s added value, not for technology’s sake. It makes people’s lives easier, it adds an efficiency that we couldn’t do without and the fact that all of our data is online makes it easy to work remotely,” he says.
In practice, relying so heavily on technology to carry out its work makes it all the more necessary that the firm’s IT infrastructure is always available. “The technology needs to work, so having a service provider that’s dependable, accessible and efficient is essential,” Manweiler adds.
In 2021, Ogier Leman went to market for a new long-term technology service provider that would proactively manage the firm’s IT environment and avoid potential downtime that could affect the staff’s ability to serve clients.
“We were looking for a service provider who could proactively advise us on making our user experience better, be that through hardware or software. We were also looking to work with a provider that was responsive to user issues and that was something that was key with SureSkills,” says Manweiler.
That part of the partnership quickly bore fruit. Since SureSkills took over managing Ogier Leman’s laptops and IT systems, there has been a 40% decrease in the number of customer support issues that are logged daily and weekly basis in the firm. “There’s been very little in the way of ‘noise’ around our IT and that’s a sign the relationship is working well,” Manweiler says.
In winning the contract, SureSkills also needed to be able to support Ogier Leman’s strategy to use cloud computing throughout the business. Moving to the cloud has two key benefits: it reduces the number of physical servers the firm needs to own and maintain, and gives Ogier Leman staff remote access to critical files through a web browser. Security is essential since legal work by its nature involves confidential client information, and the firm is certified to the ISO27001 information security standard.
“We’re very conscious of security but also of the benefits of cloud technology and the agility that delivers, which is the ability to work anywhere from any device securely without necessarily requiring software to be installed on those devices. With the right security model in place and the right cloud technology, that’s possible,” says Manweiler.
In the past number of years, SureSkills has built a portfolio of clients in the legal sector, and this was another factor that guided Ogier Leman’s decision to choose the company. “They understand the IT systems in place across the sector and understand how the business works and how important it is that the systems are up and stable,” Manweiler says.
Ogier Leman plans to keep investing in IT where it can deliver a clear benefit. Last year, it installed Microsoft Teams for all staff devices, so that calls now go to staff’s mobiles or laptops instead of to desktop phones.
Looking ahead, it’s interested in understanding how the firm might look at improving its processes using technologies like artificial intelligence, or robotic process automation. “Any kind of repetitive task that can be automated, there’s a win. We’re always keen on implementing technology that adds value, that doesn’t create distraction in the business and there’s an immediate impact for users,” Manweiler concludes.