As law firms become increasingly curious or resigned to the need to adopt a cloud practice management system, Quill this month launches the fifth iteration of its cloud product under a revamped management team, with the ahead-of-the-curve focus of MyQuill being on making it a “beautiful product” to use.
Having turned 45 in January, the fiercely independent UK-headquartered company this year appointed Tom Wormald as its managing director, with founder Julian Bryan taking on the role of executive chairman. Anthony Davies last year took over as sales manager, having previously been a regional sales consultant.
Quill, which includes case, practice and document management within its offering, often flies under the media radar, but that is not reflective of its growth. Bryan told Legal IT Insider: “Ten years ago we were a business with 40 clients in the cloud and the concept of cloud was pretty green. Now we have over 800 clients in the cloud and 11,000 users. On top of that we’ve doubled our turnover from £2m to over £8m but we remain independently owned, which gives us a degree of flexibility and autonomy that not many other corporate-owned suppliers have.”
The sector in which Quill operates has experienced dramatic consolidation. DPS Software, which was one of the first vendors in the UK to offer a cloud-hosted SaaS offering, was purchased by The Access Group in July 2020. Other independent UK practice management vendors have been snapped up – Eclipse Proclaim by Access; Linetime and SOS by Practice Evolve.
To an extent, Quill has been part of the consolidation drive, but on the buying side: in 2016 it acquired rival software firm Solicitors Case Management Systems (SC@MS) and in 2019 bought legal software company Professional Technology UK Ltd. Last summer it bought Indigo in Southampton and Bryan says: “So we have our own role.”
Quill’s independence is linked to sustainability, Bryan says. “We want clients to have the confidence that we’re not going to change the system. We have put a lot of effort into developing and supporting staff and developing our wider environmental green credentials. That independence bit is really important to us, and sustainability is important.
Allied to sustainability is having the right management team, according to Bryan. Before Quill, Wormald spent over 13 years at Liverpool law firm Carpenters, latterly as operations director. Bryan says: “Dare I say it, Tom joined us to help provide that sustainability. He came from the consumer side, having been a user of software, with a particularly strong experience in running the services of a law firm. So, what we did when Tom joined five or six years ago was strengthen our outsourced cashiers, payroll and virtual post room. Then we looked at ‘how do we make the cloud offering even better?’ And ‘how do we make it modular and in keeping with what our clients really need?’”
Law firms often buy complex on premises practice management systems that they then use 20% of, Bryan says, commenting: “We’ve got a more modular approach and more in keeping with what a client really needs.”
The fifth iteration of Quill’s cloud product, launched this month, is in large part the work of product development director Harry McHarry, who has focused heavily on the UX.
Wormald says: “We have very much been looking at the frustrations as a user, and given I was a user, I really understand what the frustrations are. The biggest thing was a supplier saying, ‘here is a new thing, which is an iteration of the last thing that didn’t work.’ Over the last few years, we have changed our development cycle to become agile and grounded in client success. It’s a big buzz word but we’re unique in that 50% of our customers also use us for services: real transactions so we really understand what they need. Anyone can come up with a solution, but we have a good understanding of the problem.”
MyQuill has been in beta since April and has included two week agile sprints. Bryan says: “The product was really functionally rich but could be cluttered, and the UX wasn’t as elegant as we’d have liked. We looked at it holistically and got our beta users to champion what’s important. So the dashboard gives you the information that’s pertinent to you. There is that idea of ownership and accountability. You’ve got your usual cases with integrated AML, and document management with fully integrated forms powered by EVO. But the beauty is the ease of use and the information being displayed on the screen at the time you need it.
“The biggest feedback we got is that the fewer clicks the better. That’s what is driving the new iteration. Do you want to know financials? One click. Do you want to send money? One click.”
Quill has clients from solo practitioners to 500+ firms and Wormald says: “We don’t have one model fits all and can adapt, whether that be in a partnership that we haven’t built but can connect through APIs or something we can build . We’re now creating beautiful products as well as making data accessible.”
Its ‘big thing’ is that users actually use the systems they are given. Davies says: “They want simple functionality, to be able to do a ledger. As part of our client onboarding process, we give them the opportunity to think about how they run the business. If they want to carry on their tailored practices, they can carry those on. But when you look at the data, law firms have, for example, hundreds of tasks and reminders hundreds of times across the same cases. We say we can make sure that things happen at the right time, and report on and notify you if it doesn’t happen. What we’re bringing to the table is the usability of the system.”
To see a number of Quill’s customers in the public domain see: https://www.quill.co.uk/resources/case-studies/