BigHand Document Creation: Transforming Legacy Processes at Burges Salmon

Legal documentation is frequently considered the visual representation of a law firm’s offering; its look and quality a reflection of a firm’s brand and service offering. Moreover, the ease and speed with which high quality, accurate documents can be created will directly impact both the output and user experience of a firm’s staff – both fee earners and business services colleagues alike.

However, in many cases, firms are still grappling with legacy infrastructure and dated solutions, which – in a competitive landscape and facing well-documented resource challenges – can both introduce unnecessary risk and impact profitability.

It was for these reasons that when independent UK law firm Burges Salmon undertook a whole-scale IT infrastructure review, in line with its broader business growth and ESG ambitions, it turned to BigHand Document Creation to overhaul its legal document and template workflows.


Striving for the highest quality service

Burges Salmon is an ambitious, sustainable and inclusive firm that ensures its clients, people and communities flourish. Burges Salmon’s vision is to be the market-leading independent UK law firm that provides the best proposition for its people and its clients.

With offices in Bristol, Edinburgh, London and Dublin, Burges Salmon maintains a collaborative and cohesive culture which underpins the quality of its work and client service. Burges Salmon has lawyers who are qualified to work in all three legal jurisdictions in the UK — England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Internationally, the firm works with a select number of like-minded independent law firms — the firm’s preferred law firm network.

The firm competes at the top of the legal market, working for large corporates, entrepreneurial businesses, institutions and public bodies and private individuals. The firm provides these sophisticated clients with a wide range of services, often at critical moments when astute legal advice and commercial guidance is needed. Working collaboratively, in partnership with clients, Burges Salmon forms its thinking around their needs to ensure delivery of the right solutions when it matters.

In a rapidly changing world, clients instruct Burges Salmon because it offers a different experience: unrivalled expertise, excellent service and exceptional value.

Burges Salmon has more than 1,000 people, including 110 partners with a revenue of £128.2 million, with ambitious plans for ongoing growth in the years to come.


Overcoming legacy hurdles

Lee Davey, the firm’s Deputy Head of Technology and Operations, was responsible for the review of its IT infrastructure. As part of the project, Lee wanted to implement a more future-proof set of solutions, including its template management solution.

“We had in place a series of legacy applications that worked, but were becoming increasingly hard to maintain and, with the amount of internal coding they relied upon, was affecting their viability for the future,” Lee says.

The incumbent solution was written in-house and developed over more than 20 years with the addition of new code and software products. “It did what was required of it,” says Lee, “but it had become complex and difficult to implement changes. We were getting to the point where it was becoming unmanageable.”


Flexible and futureproof solution

Lee and the team at Burges Salmon wanted a solution that would improve all areas of the user experience, from the lawyers creating and using document templates to the document specialist team overseeing their needs, and the technical team responsible for ongoing integrations and customisation of the solution.

The application needed to be intuitive with the latest available features for creating and managing legal documents that could be easily picked up by an expanding team. Burges Salmon wanted a partner that could provide ongoing industry support and expertise to help set the firm up for the future.

Existing partners BigHand and several other service providers were invited to tender. “BigHand Document Creation met all of our requirements,” says Lee. “We were pleased about this, as we know they are a company that shares many of our own values. They treat us as partners and vice versa.”


No news is the best news

Since implementing the BigHand solution in May 2023, the firm has seen a significant transformation in its document creation process. As Fiona Nicol, who works in the Transformation and Projects team at Burges Salmon and helped project-manage the transition to BigHand Document Creation, comments: “From the end user’s perspective, we now have a much slicker, streamlined process in place for creating documents. The menus are now very similar across the different templates. So, it creates ease, especially when you are providing training or picking things up from new.”

With the solution now in use by all of its people, the firm has also seen increased reliability, while its usability also makes it much easier to onboard new employees across departments. Lee adds: “We recently had a new colleague join the technology operations department, and I am very pleased with how quickly we could bring them up-to-speed on our template management processes. With such complex layers of coding, this just wouldn’t have been possible with our old system.”

Another of the big advantages highlighted by Fiona is that we can now track the usage of each template. Burges Salmon have implemented an internal document forum to review this new information on a regular basis. “If documents aren't being used, we can make an informed decision on whether they’re still needed,” Fiona says. “It also means that new templates can be easily requested within the system.”

Using the BigHand Document Creation solution, requests made within the system are now actioned more quickly. In particular, the testing of new templates was a big cause of delays in the past. “Within our old system, if changes were required, then we would have to go through a rigorous round of testing of all templates because of how they were coded,” explains Fiona. “Now, we can just test certain key elements. It’s another example of how Document Creation has helped streamline many of our processes.”


Partnership for growth

Looking ahead, Burges Salmon plans to further expand on its relationship with BigHand, having recently adopted BigHand Matter Pricing – its AI-enabled matter budgeting, pricing and tracking tool.

Indeed, both Fiona and Lee agree their journey is just getting started. “We have landed in a good place with BigHand,” concludes Lee. “We have built a strong partnership with them, and we are now looking for their support with other areas of our technology evolution.

“We see this as the foundation for a long-term relationship that will support our vision for Burges Salmon’s digital transformation.”

Author image
Lee Davey
Deputy Head of Technology and Operations, Burges Salmon

About BigHand Document Creation

Give your teams a quick, easy way to design and deploy in-house document templates and let your people work in a more self-sufficient way without the need for support, with the correct template for the job, every time.

Save time, effort and money that can be reinvested in higher value areas. Make template management quick and easy with BigHand Document Creation.

BigHand Document Creation