SCOTTISH firm The Morton Fraser Partnership claims it is managing to more than halve its costs by using case management technology to pool its high volume 'commodity' work into a single department.

The case management unit is staffed by seven paralegals who use the Axxia Case Manager system under the supervision of one solicitor.

The system allows the paralegals to handle cases from the moment the firm is instructed, and it has built-in templates which prompt staff to carry out tasks at key stages in the transaction. If the tasks are not completed, the system alerts the supervising solicitor.

The unit currently handles debt recovery, security, commercial leasing and mortgage work. The firm hopes the unit will be carrying out a quarter of the practice's work by the end of the year.

Many leading English firms, including Dibb Lupton Alsop, Hammond Suddards and Addleshaw Booth & Co, are already taking advantage of this technology to process high turnover work within departments.

But the 20-partner Edinburgh firm is thought to be unique in setting up a single department which is responsible for handling work assigned to it by the practice's other departments.

Managing partner Gordon Kerr said the unit signalled a recognition by the firm of the distinction between 'commodity' work and specialised work which clients were prepared to pay more for.

But Dibbs' Bradford office regional managing partner Andrew Chappell said that he favoured a system where paralegals worked in specific departments and so developed skills in particular areas of work.

He added that Dibbs had not calculated how much the system had saved the firm.