Established in January 2007, Blackburn-based Blakewater Solicitors has rapidly evolved over the years from a leading specialist conveyancing practice into a broader firm, now offering sharia finance, immigration, personal injury and probate services.
Blakewater Solicitors has been recognised nationally for its efficient and professional service and has become one of the leading market providers for property transactions in the North of England. The flexible, expert and tailored service has allowed the firm to thrive in today’s global marketplace, boasting an expansive client base in 55 cities across 33 countries.
Having won several national and international accolades, and a Lexel and CQS Law Society accredited practice with Investor in People Gold; the firm has most recently been shortlisted for the Modern Law Conveyancing Awards 2016.
Blakewater Solicitors has taken the bold move to open a second office in Bradford, West Yorkshire, despite the current legal landscape and stiff competition. The firm is confident that the quality of its legal work and client care will set it apart.
Abdul Hafeez Darr, director at Blakewater Solicitors, speaks to Eclipse about his choice in legal software and why he’s been an Eclipse client for nearly a decade.
What was your initial reason behind implementing a practice management system?
Before I founded Blakewater Solicitors, I worked for one of the ‘Magic Circle’ law firms in London so therefore knew of the benefits to legal software, including the huge savings it could bring if used correctly.
When I established Blakewater Solicitors with my business partner, I knew a full practice management system was a necessary requirement, and we were actually one of the first firms in the North West to implement a legal software solution, and broke the mould with regards to investing in IT so heavily for a new start-up.
Why did you choose Eclipse over other providers?
Our initial selection process was extremely extensive. We looked at 5 different legal software providers and saw a range of in-depth demonstrations, as well as a number of meetings with each provider, and agreed Proclaim was the best solution on the market. Unfortunately, my business partner selected another provider – based purely on costs – and quickly realised, after 2 weeks, the system was not fit for purpose – especially in comparison to Proclaim.
Essentially, I see Eclipse and its Proclaim solution as the ‘Apple’ of the legal software sector. It provides a huge return on investment, and a quality, centralised case management system, providing us with the confidence to know it’s entirely futureproof. Additionally, third parties have Eclipse at the top of their lists for integrations, so I can feel safe in the knowledge that our legal software is always going to be top of the range.
Blakewater Solicitors has expanded substantially since 2007 – how has Proclaim helped with this?
To put it simply, it provides us with massive efficiency gains.
For a firm of our size, we’re taking on double the work that we could without Proclaim, and even better, we’re achieving this seamlessly without the need for a full team of support staff.
Proclaim’s workflow is so easy to tweak as and when we need to, and the process of uploading letters and editing linked actions means our junior staff can open cases, input details, send out documentation and file all correspondence. Ultimately this is saving us huge amounts in both time and money. Taking this further, we don’t have the worry of needing everyone in the office at all times – our solicitors are able to work remotely, or from home, as everything is accessible and centralised.
As an Eclipse client for nearly 10 years, what are some of the benefits you’ve seen?
Firstly, the support that’s on offer. It’s excellent and there’s no other way to describe it! Anytime I’ve needed to call, no matter who I speak to, they’re always extremely friendly and approachable. I find a lot of support teams in other businesses can make you feel stupid, or like you’re wasting their time when asking questions. With Eclipse, even if it’s a simple problem, they’re willing to log on remotely and show me, rather than just explain. The whole team are always happy to help and have a fantastic attitude.
Secondly, the integrations that are available. We’re currently using the MoJ portal and LRBG integrations and have found these in particular have reduced our time in half, not to mention streamline our processes across the personal injury and conveyancing departments.
How are you using FileView to enhance your service?
FileView is a fantastic selling point for us. Not only is it a great tool for estate agents and referrers, it’s also extremely useful for our clients, enabling them to securely log in as and when they want to for case updates.
As an example, we have clients in 55 cities across 33 countries worldwide so time zones often don’t allow for us to speak with them at a convenient time. A high number of our overseas clients, particularly in Hong Kong and Singapore, are conveyancing clients looking to buy and sell property in London – they’re often very tech-savvy and extremely demanding. One of the first questions we get asked is how we can ensure they’re kept updated on their case when they are the other side of the world. FileView provides the perfect solution, and has enabled us to reach clients that we otherwise would’ve had to turn away.
How well does proclaim suit your on-going needs as a business?
As a Proclaim user and Eclipse client of nearly a decade, I can say it suits Blakewater Solicitors perfectly!
We’re always looking at new methods to improve our systems and procedures, which of course proclaim plays a huge part in. Thankfully, its usability means we can easily tweak the system whenever we need to for business and/or client requirements. As part of this, we’re currently looking to implement Eclipse’s SecureDocs tool for our personal injury department as it would significantly improve our turnaround times and complement our existing system very well.
Furthermore, Eclipse is the market-leading provider so we’re quietly confident that any of our future technology will always be supported – whether that’s a new third party integration, or entirely new case type.
To put it simply, proclaim has been – and will continue to be – fundamental to our success.