Maxwell Hodge is an independent firm of solicitors that was established on Merseyside over 150 years ago.
Offering a full range of legal services for the lifetime of the family, at home and at work, as well as a strong commercial team, Maxwell Hodge has a network of eight offices across Merseyside.
Over the past decade, the legal profession has seen a number of challenges, from increased competition to pressure on prices and rising regulatory demands for client information security. This has led many legal firms to push hard to exploit technology to drive down costs, safeguard information and improve the quality and timeliness of service to clients. For Maxwell Hodge, a key component of this change has been the adoption of document management technology from Invu.
With this in mind, client document safety is a top priority. In an era of escalating terrorist threat, Mersey based Solicitors Maxwell Hodge turned to Invu document management to provide a robust backup solution for the 11,000 original Will documents stored in its vaults. The firm has since extended its use of document management to include all client identification and is exploiting Invu’s ease of use and rapid search functionality to provide instant access to information.
In addition to delivering the audited document backup required to ensure compliance with the Law Society Standard of Excellence (Lexcel), the speed of search and rapid document retrieval is enabling Maxwell Hodge to provide a better service to clients.
“The Invu solution delivered the ease of use, flexibility, reliability and a good support system that is essential.”
Maxwell Hodge first considered the use of document management almost a decade ago to address concerns regarding the staff storage of client Wills. As Carol Head, Business Services Director, Maxwell Hodge explains, the firm’s enormous bank of original Will documents is stored in vaults at its Liverpool City office. “At this time there were heightened terrorist fears in England and the partners at Maxwell Hodge were concerned that, should there be any type of terrorist attack in Liverpool, these Wills could go up in smoke.”
In common with all law firms, Maxwell Hodge is required to comply with the Law Society Standard of Excellence (Lexcel). While original copies of Will documents must be retained for legal purposes, Lexcel requires backup procedures are in place to ensure client records are safe – even in the event of fire, flood or terrorist event. The firm decided a backup system was required and opted to use the Invu solution to scan all the Wills into a centralised system.
Scanning over 11,000 Wills into Invu took time – especially considering some of them are over 100 years old and are on parchment paper. “Each Will had to be scanned individually; and it is not permissible to remove any binding holding the document together because it is a legal document – the scanning process had to be done very carefully.” Head explains.
“By scanning thousands of signed Wills into Invu, Maxwell Hodge ensured that the documents could be recreated at any time if and when required.”
This initial, tactical, adoption of Invu’s solution was, in fact, just the beginning of a transformation in the way Maxwell Hodge manages client documentation. “To comply with a number of regulatory changes, including Anti-Money Laundering, clients must provide a number of identification documents, including bank accounts, driver’s license and passport. Maxwell Hodge now uses Invu to scan all this client identication, to ensure information is held correctly and can be easily accessed.”
All client documentation is now held centrally, ensuring staff can rapidly access information irrespective of location. This means that if a client comes into one of the Maxwell Hodge offices, rather than waiting for a Will to be retrieved from the vault, a copy of the Will can be instantly retrieved on screen and printed out for the client if required.
One of the benefits of the Invu search technology is the ease with which Maxwell Hodge can locate the relevant document. Many of the Wills in the vault have not necessarily been produced by Maxwell Hodge, but stored for safe keeping. Sometimes the client might forget what is included in the Will – so the ability to search the database for keywords is key. Head says, “It is useful to be able to search on multiple terms rather than just the client’s name. If someone bequeathed an amount to a dog, for example, it is easy to search on the dog’s name and find the Will very quickly.”
Maxwell Hodge would not have been able to offer this service without instant access to the scanned document image via Invu. “It would not have been possible to search through all the records,” Head says.
The rapid search has also enabled Maxwell Hodge to discover important logistical information. For example, if one of the firm’s partners has acted as a signatory on a number of Wills it is a simple process to find all those related documents with that partner’s name attached to it, in case a change is required.
Maxwell Hodge now has over 51,000 documents stored within Invu and has recently upgraded to the latest version as part of its on-going IT evolution. As Head concludes, “Ensuring client records are safe is a number one priority for any law firm. Without Invu we could not demonstrate that our records are backed up – or comply with Lexcel. Not only is Invu a fundamental component of Maxwell Hodge’s disaster recovery strategy but instant access to information allows us to provide a better service to our clients.”
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