Harrie Geerings
HBN Law

 

 

HBN Law & Tax is not the typical Legalsense client. The firm consists of 6 offices, situated in the Netherlands and the Antilles islands (Caribbean Sea). The implications of this geographical spread are daunting: multiple administrations, currencies and jurisdictions. Having such a complex operation in place unfortunately also leaves room for small mistakes, as becomes clear during the interview with Harrie: “but that would be the case irrespective of the software in use. It’s more about how you solve the issues.”

All-in-one or best of breed?

The common way of working at HBN was characterised by a huge usage of paper, hardcopy timesheets and a very complicated and manual billing process. It was evident something had to change. Legalsense was selected to facilitate the automation of time recording and related downstream processes. Harrie: “With the assistance of external consultants we looked at various alternatives. We had to make a choice between an all-in-one solution or several integrated spot solutions. Legalsense was the clear winner, also because it was specifically developed for law firms. We had one important prerequisite for Legalsense: instead of using their standard integration with Twinfield as accounting software, we opted for Exact Online. Although it was quite a daunting task for Legalsense, in the end it proved not to be an obstacle for the success of the project.”

Natural way of thinking

All lawyers at HBN are now using Legalsense to track time and manage matters, resulting in an improved way of working, less error-prone. As a bonus the firm now also makes use of digital invoicing which is regarded as a huge advantage. “The software is very easy to use and follows people’s natural way of thinking. The way we record time now is a giant leap forward and challenging at the same time. Each HBN location is working with its own Legalsense environment, meaning that when we have to process the data, we need to make use of six different Legalsense environments. We concluded that just one central environment would be beneficial for administrative purposes and the Legalsense team is already working to make that possible.”

Data in safe location

The Cloud migration is now complete. “We would rather put our trust in Microsoft and Legalsense than in some semi-educated IT professional working parttime. In my view the Cloud is more expensive compared to the traditional model, but I would rather spend extra on companies with a proven track record, a great way to outsource challenges!” Having the data in secure environment is also very important. “We are located in different countries and therefore facing multiple jurisdictions. The advantage of having our data stored in the Netherlands now, is that they – and Legalsense – lead the way when it comes to the very strict EU policies and guidelines surrounding data and data storage.”

Every challenge comes with a solution

One of the challenges of Legalsense – according to Harrie – is the fact that the system is working with one standard currency. “For us, this is still difficult to cope with. We send invoices in five different currencies and I still have to manually manage five different lists in order to offer that service to our clients. These manual processes are prone to mistakes. Of course we do recognise that we are an exception with our complicated billing processes. Fortunately, Legalsense also recognizes the need to change this situation and started working towards a solution.”

Teamwork

According to Harrie, with an IT project of this size, it is important to keep track of all pros and cons. He also explains that it was a daunting task to find the right software that is able to do everything error-free. “This is mainly due to the different currencies and tax regimes that we have to take into account. If you want to operate successfully as software company outside the European Union, you have to be able to offer the right solution. For Legalsense we are the first law firm with such a challenging operation. Not all challenges are solved yet. This is not due to the Legalsense software, but is more an indication of a changing market.”

“Despite this observation we are happy with the implemented solution. The product as is is great and also gives us enough confidence for the future. Although there are still some challenges to overcome, we are more than confident that these will be solved with the assistance of the great team at Legalsense!”