NLS Solicitors specialises in immigration legal services. Established in 2013, the business has offices in Cardiff, Newport, Swansea and most recently Bristol.
- Broadband-enabled services promote organic business growth in start-up SMEs
- Integrating cloud-based packages allows synchronisation across multiple business premises
- Adoption barriers can prevent integrated working across multiple premises
Overview of the business
As a member of Legal 500, the solicitors is among the top legal firms in the UK. It is part of the Immigration and Asylum Accreditation Scheme, and holds a Legal Aid contract.
The business continues to grow organically. Over the last 12-months, the business has opened a new office outside of Wales and employed two new case workers. The business plan involves increasing the workload and then appointing new highly-skilled staff to meet the expanding demand.
NLS revisit information flow diagram
Highlighting the internal and external communication flows of the business.
Superfast broadband adoption
NLS Solicitors attains varying levels of broadband access across its four sites. The current provider is Talk Talk Business. While fibre is available at Newport and Swansea, the business has yet to adopt these higher bandwidths, since reliability rather than high-speeds is ranked as a priority. The current speeds attained are approximately 16 Mbps for download.
In Cardiff, there are problems with bandwidth and stability of the line, causing ongoing difficulties for the business. It is estimated that the line goes down once daily. NLS Solicitors is negotiating access through a local South Wales provider to ensure a more stable connection and avoid the frustration of dropped connections.
However, a key reason for the adoption barriers is the difficulty of installing the necessary infrastructure in a city-centre location. While fibre connectivity will be more expensive, the business is happy to undertake this investment for the Cardiff premises. If the benefits of these higher speeds are realised in Cardiff, the solicitors will consider rolling out superfast connectivity to all its sites in the near future.
IT skills capacity
There are nine staff employed across the four offices. While it does not employ an IT specialist, there is a requirement that all staff possess a baseline knowledge of IT and the case management system. External support is used for more specialist issues.
Use of digital technologies
The businesses uses a mixture of online and offline business processes. However, there are moves toward using a large remit of digital resources across the business processes. This includes a transition to broadband-enabled voice communications, through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
NLS provide legal aid to the Red Cross Refugee Centre in Plymouth. The business initially undertook this support face-to-face due to the requirement for documents to be signed. They are now able to work with the Red Cross interpreters to conduct interviews using video conferencing (such as Skype) and collect signatures. This change in business processes would not be possible without high speed broadband.
Case management system
The business continue to use the Case Management System (Osprey) for most of their business processes. This includes all data storage, sales, marketing and accounting. The cloud-based functionality enables the offices to synchronise files and produces automated reports. The system also allows reminders to be setup that highlight to clients when their permission to remain in the United Kingdom is running out. This encourages repeat custom, while also providing a useful service for the client.
Website and social media
A further improvement is seen with the upgrade of the businesses’ website. This remains in the early stages of development. Social media accounts (such as Twitter) are operated through a programme called Buffer. This is an online application, wherein businesses are able to plan and coordinate posts to match clients’ peak viewing times. This enables the business to devise select stories at the start of a working day that can then be posted on the various platforms throughout the day.
Broadband-enabled technologies have played an important role in the establishment and development of NLS Solicitors. As explained above, the business operates a large proportion of its business processes online, including its cloud-based case management system and its voice communications (VoIP).
This has enabled the business to cut costs in relation to telephone subscriptions, data storage and access to data. For example, the VoIP technology provides a lower cost solution to a traditional telephone system at circa £20 pounds per month, in comparison to several hundred pounds for a central telephone server in the owner’s former business.
Moreover, the use of digital technologies has allowed for an easy transition and cost effective expansion into new office spaces. In addition, the central storage and retrieval of information eases the induction of new staff across multiple locations. Therefore, the integration of cloud-based technology across the sites has enabled flexibility, as well as cutting costs and risk to the business.