Like all great law practices, Dickinson Wright (DW) provides legal services first and foremost, but it must also assure the matters it works on are appropriate. Dealing with multiple offices, hundreds of practitioners and thousands of matters, DW has established best practices for each type of law. The business must efficiently manage the intake of new clients while setting profitable rate structures and sound financial policies. Falling into a conflict of interest can be costly, to say the least. Dickinson Wright reduced their risk and improved their operational efficiencies by working with T4G to automate the various stages of their complex new business intake process with an integrated portal solution.
Established in 1878. There aren’t many companies that can make such a longevity claim, but Dickinson Wright PLLC (DW) can. As one of North America’s oldest law firms, it has adapted to the times and adopted the best resources to serve its clients. Now with approximately 260 attorneys in 40 different practice areas in 10 offices around North America, it is more important than ever to know what everyone is working on and which clients the firm can take on.
Each year, the firm will accept about 2,000 new clients and 10,000 new matters, and, like all large, successful law firms, DW is managed by partners and practice group leaders. Each new client and matter request must pass through several steps of review and approval, determined by factors such as the type of law, rate structure, location and financial arrangements.
As part of a firm-wide initiative to move from Lotus Notes to SharePoint, Dickinson Wright saw an opportunity to improve on their legacy Notes-based system. They wanted more automation, less duplication of effort, greater flexibility and better enforcement of process. They wanted to open new cases better and faster, and they needed a technology partner that understood the unique challenges inherent in the legal field, one that could get the work done on time and on budget. T4G had the experience and expertise for this challenge and was excited to help Dickinson Wright bring it to fruition.
T4G knew the customer well through previous assignments and, with years of experience helping lawyers use technology to improve their practices and become more efficient, many T4G consultants had a solid understanding of the legal field.
“When we brought the project to T4G, we had already finalized our business requirements and felt that every detail of our new system was documented and accounted for,” says Karl Swartzendruber, Dickinson Wright PLLC Systems Engineer, “but growth and change in the Firm forced us,to depart from the original specification. In the early prototypes, partners began to contribute new ideas and to define new requirements. When we saw how much T4G could deliver and how they could stay focused on a moving target, the project became bigger and better. Despite multiple changes to the project scope, T4G was able to adapt on the fly and accommodate our requirements. Our T4G developer continually impressed us by quickly comprehending our business needs and by anticipating the implications of our changes. On many occasions they devised ways to solve a problem before we realized we had created one.”
“Our T4G developer continually impressed us by quickly comprehending our business needs and by anticipating the implications of our changes. On many occasions they devised ways to solve a problem before we realized we had created one.
“At the start of the project, we really stressed the importance of collaboration and capturing information upfront to ensure buy-in of the solution from senior stakeholders at Dickinson Wright,” says Kevin Berry, the head of T4G’s professional services business unit. “T4G has a great deal of experience helping clients through organizational and process change. Having executed several similar projects we were able to predict some of the issues Dickinson Wright PLLC might encounter after implementing an automated system like this one.”
The new system uses Microsoft SharePoint Server and Microsoft Infopath with the Whitehill One (a workflow product from Thomson Reuters) and connects seamlessly with DW’s legacy systems.
The Dickinson Wright new business intake solution allows anyone in the process to see where a particular matter stands at any given moment in the approval process, thus unplugging possible bottlenecks even before they occur. Obviously, geography is no longer a barrier. A person in Toronto or Tennessee can complete their stage of the process with ease.
The benefits are significant:
Increased Revenue: By opening business quickly and efficiently, conflicts are cleared and time entry enabled much faster than before.
Enforced/streamlined Best Practices: The system enhances the integrity of the conflicts process and ensures that consistent approval paths are followed.
Process Visibility and Accessibility: At any given time, the portal allows anyone with access -- at any DW office -- to see where a particular matter request is within the workflow.
Integrated Legacy Systems: The new system allows seamless, accurate and efficient data transfer between the business intake application and Dickinson Wright’s legacy systems.
Greater Accuracy and Efficiency: Manual data entry is reduced and redundant data entry is eliminated.
Easy to Use: Application is fast, intuitive and user-friendly.