Legl has helped Woodstock grow and expand with remote consultants across the country by digitising their client onboarding and payments processes.
Woodstock Legal Services is a niche law firm providing residential and commercial property, employment and private client legal services across England and Wales. Half of their 35 employees are self-employed as consultants.
Natasha Boyland, Director and Head of Operations & Risk, provides operational and compliance support to the firm and is involved in key strategic projects to assist the firm’s growth and strategic plan. Natasha’s key focus areas include building strategy, driving company growth, and managing the internal tech stack.
Woodstock were leveraging a software tool to handle ID verification as part of their client onboarding processes. When Natasha joined the firm, she had discussions with the directors around hiring someone to help with the admin of chasing clients. This would have included tasks such as following up client onboarding, sending requests, and getting documents back. Natasha felt this approach was unnecessary and suggested instead implementing a tech solution to streamline processes.
In addition, Woodstock were using a tool for payments on a small scale, but were primarily driving client payments for legal fees by including the firm’s bank details on every invoice. The firm also had no way of taking phone payments, which resulted in some awkward conversations with clients.
Woodstock Legal Services are an innovative law firm providing legal services across the whole of England and Wales, and their lawyers are recognised nationally for their wealth of specialist expertise and knowledge. As experts in their field, they pride themselves on providing quality practical legal advice and a bespoke personalised service for their clients.
Landlord & Tenant, Property, Commercial, Wills & Probate, Private Client
Natasha had heard of Legl when her previous company implemented the platform, and it had piqued her interest. Once at Woodstock, she noticed that the verification process through the legacy system was proving clunky, and “Legl was just so forward-thinking and entrepreneurial,” something that matched the spirit of her firm.
Natasha also knew that the fees on card transactions with Legl were better than with Woodstock’s existing system, and there were tools that would improve the collection of client payments, including payment request links and the ability to take phone payments that would be logged directly in the platform. By allowing clients to make payments from overseas or outside of office hours, the firm was able to “untap our limitations by giving people options” as to when and how they paid for services.
Natasha put Legl forward to her internal team and they loved it from the outset. The time to implement the platform “felt like minutes – it was so slick and easy. At every stage, I knew what was happening and who I was dealing with. Legl is always one step ahead. I’ve never had this experience from any other vendor.”
Currently, all employees at Woodstock use Legl to some degree. The support team performs all of the file openings, including ID verification, source of funds, and PEPs/Sanctions checks. The fee earners have seen their steps have been reduced because they know their support teams have done the appropriate due diligence on all clients. In fact, even new employees have been able to pick up the platform quickly. Natasha says, “I don’t know how you can be confused by the platform. It’s so easy to use.”
Now everything is automated through the Legl platform. “Everything in our own workflows is just sent to clients in one click. It makes it a smooth journey. The team loves it because it reduces their admin time; they weren’t happy chasing clients constantly.”
Natasha’s personal favourite feature is the MLRO oversight dashboard, which gives her “confidence knowing I can pull a report and see everything in one snapshot.” She and the other directors of the company can look at the insights dashboards and see what’s happening, in real time.
With regard to ways Legl has created a competitive advantage for Woodstock, Natasha says, “I feel like we’re competing with the big firms on the onboarding side of things. The way we work, we consistently challenge ourselves to match the Top 500 firms and we feel that Legl has helped us keep ahead of the game.”
Prior to using Legl, Woodstock consultants would send out client care letters via email, which the client would then have to print off, sign and then either scan and email back or post them, a process that would take two weeks or more to complete. Now, with Legl, it takes just a day and a half on average for a client to complete the onboarding process.
Natasha pointed out that even clients are feeling positive about Legl. “Everyone just says [the onboarding process is] really easy. But we don’t hear very much. You really only know something’s wrong if you’re getting negative feedback. To onboard within a day, sometimes in minutes, why would they come back to me with anything but ‘that was easy’?”
Legl’s payment portal on the firm’s website, coupled with automated sends of payment request links and reminders, means that the average time to pay per client is just under 24 hours.
Woodstock had also never had the ability to take phone payments; leveraging the Legl platform, currently over 45% of all payments are completed over the phone. “We’d have people ringing us to ask if they could pay, and we’d have to say no. And that’s embarrassing!” says Natasha. In fact, the payment capabilities with Legl are, in her mind, “uncapped by limitations and allows us to give people options as to when and how they pay.”
With the firm being so heavily regulated and with compliance being such a huge responsibility, Natasha says that “Legl gives me that little bit of peace of mind knowing I can trust it. If someone came in and said, ‘I want to look at your internal processes,’ I’d be absolutely comfortable knowing that Legl has my back and are keeping things safe. I absolutely trust the information the comes through.”
She adds, “What I love about the due diligence Legl supports is that it’s a snapshot of everything that anybody needs to see. Do we know our client? Yes, we do. Have we done the AML checks? Yes, we have. Have we checked the PEPs/Sanctions lists? Yes, we have. Do we need enhanced due diligence? We know why we need to do that, because Legl helps guide us through those steps. I can sleep at night knowing I’ve got the trust in Legl to know that I’m fully compliant.”
Legl has assisted Woodstock in improving internal efficiencies, specifically by freeing up time for the team. “Time is so precious for the guys. We’re not having to chase people constantly,” says Natasha. The fee earners themselves “are not thinking about who they need to chase, or what needs to be done. It’s all done for them centrally. So the value is really in getting time back for the team.”
The automation within Legl “gives [the team] a chance to reduce their stress levels by not having to deal with calls about ID or any of the admin tasks; rather, the calls that they’re dealing with are coming through purely about the case itself and the lawyers can just focus on giving clients the best service possible.”
Had Woodstock continued to use its legacy systems, Natasha says they would have had to add additional headcount purely to focus on onboarding admin. With Legl, “we haven’t had to add the extra person or two, and the team themselves are spending time saved by using Legl to focus on other client areas.”
“If firms aren’t listening to what their clients or internal employees want, they’ll fail,” says Natasha. “If you’re not continuing to evolve and use legaltech, there will be a time where you’ll end up standing still. Unless you have years and years of a relationship with a client, it’s all word of mouth – clients will change firms on a whim if the alternative is more client focussed. It all impacts cash flow. Just use technology to help you!”
And for those currently evaluating Legl for their firm, Natasha puts it simply: “You cannot stand still now, and if you’re deliberating it, why? Do it. Just do it. When you look at the ROI, 100% you’ll get your money back (and more) from using Legl.”