EXCELLENCE AND/OR INNOVATION IN LAW FIRM FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT

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WINNER: Eversheds

One of the most relevant awards in the current economic climate, the team from Eversheds will be doubly satisfied in picking up the top prize. In 2012 the firm launched a potentially transformative payroll system that, as one judge put it, “may become a marketable product in its own right”. Eversheds’ finance team devised a transformative new system to save time and costs associated with the manual preparation of partners’ payroll and to reduce risks and increase transparency. The primary aim was to transfer the tasks of profit sharing, partner payroll and tax reserving –historically delivered via multiple linked Excel spreadsheets – to an inter-relational database that performs all calculations automatically on a monthly/annual basis. This was achieved by the automation of monthly partner payroll and profit-sharing calculations for the entire partnership of more than 300 equity partners in order to mitigate reliance on key individuals within finance. A further aim was to provide partners with increased visibility of current and historic annual profit shares, monthly payments and tax liabilities via a secure online reporting portal, replacing annual and monthly paper reports. The success of the project is such that the finance team has been asked by its peers whether they can purchase such a system, while external advisers have suggested it is something Eversheds should market externally.

About Burford Capital

Burford is the world’s largest provider of investment capital and risk solutions for litigation.

We manage a diversified portfolio of investments and provide litigation-related corporate finance and insurance solutions to businesses and law firms.

  • Publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange - BUR:LN
  • Backed by major institutional investors
  • More than $300 million in investment capital
  • Own and operate the UK's leading After the Event litigation insurance provider

Our team is the most experienced in the field, with more than 300 years of collective litigation and litigation management experience at major law firms and corporations. We’ve settled or tried billions of dollars of cases. And we have run major businesses and other investment funds.

The combination of our experience and our capital base is unmatched.

2ND: Linklaters

Over the past year magic circle firm Linklaters has focused on improving processes and technology in the area of matter management, supporting these initiatives with a change management programme. New ideas included an improved matter opening process and form, new functionality to allow the capture and reporting of client-specific information, the roll-out of a new desktop reporting tool to provide faster and more detailed information on work in progress and billing, and the establishment of a dedicated ebilling team to ensure the firm is offering a high level of support to those clients who request the service. In addition the finance team worked closely with other parts of the firm to rewrite all of the finance elements of core skills courses and add other appropriate courses to the curriculum. As a result, course attendance has increased significantly while ebilling volume increased by 60 per cent in 2012.

3RD: Higgs & Sons

Higgs & Sons takes third place in this category for radically overhauling its traditional law firm model. The project re-evaluated traditional law firm service models, pricing strategies, perspectives of profitability and the levels of engagement of every person in the firm. The firm then embarked on the process of transforming its culture and operations. To achieve this it formed a knowledge transfer partnership project with Aston Business School funded partly by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Technology Strategy Board (TSB). A novel academic technique called process oriented holonic modelling enabled Higgs to harness lawyers’ creativity by involving them in team-working sessions to break down the traditional boundaries between themselves and support staff. The evidence of its success is in the fee generation. Taking just one area of Higgs’ practice, the conversion rate in the road traffic accident claims department has increased from 67 per cent to 93 per cent.