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F amily law practice Makin Dixon Solicitors has seen a 50 per cent rise in enquiries relating to domestic abuse during lockdown. Its in-demand services were able to continue despite lockdown restrictions thanks to a new cloud-based IT system which enabled its team, usually based in seven offices across Yorkshire and Lancashire, to work from home and attend virtual trials and hearings.

Before the emergence of the coronavirus, Makin Dixon had made the decision to invest in a new IT solution to reduce costs and improve security with the help of specialist consultancy firm Advancery. With offices in Bradford and Lancaster, Advancery was well-placed to offer support and services to Makin Dixon’s offices in Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield, Keighley, Leeds, Rochdale and Wakefield.

Improving security and 24/7 access to support were the main drivers behind the decision, with the rising cost of calls between offices also a factor. Their decision to invest in cloud-based IT services for their team couldn’t have been more timely; shortly after work began on rolling out the new solution, the country went into lockdown to combat the spread of the coronavirus and non-essential workers were required to work remotely.

At the end of 2019, Advancery managed the migration to Microsoft Office 365 across the company, minimising any impact on day-to-day business and a new email system was soon up and running.

Then, early in 2020, the next stage involved moving to a more flexible and cost-effective VoIP telephone system. Each office retained a unique phone number with a series of extensions across the entire network, enabling calls to be transferred between offices easily and cost-effectively. For individual users, it meant calls to their extension number could be taken either in the office or on their smartphone; a feature that would prove even more valuable to the business than they originally anticipated!

nitially, Advancery introduced the VoIP system to the Rochdale office and then in March the country went into lockdown and all the offices were closed. As more offices were switched over to the VoIP telephone system, Makin Dixon’s team were able to handle the firm’s increasing workload remotely.

By May, the law firm had experienced a rise of more than 50 per cent in enquiries related to domestic abuse since the start of the lockdown.

Alex Mordey, Director of Managed Services at Advancery says:

“Makin Dixon’s new IT and phone systems meant the team could provide support and advice to people who were desperately in need of it at a time when many law firms weren’t able to cope with the challenge of transitioning to working from home. Having started the process of updating their systems before the lockdown, we were able to step up and roll out the new solution across their network and help the team to work remotely as quickly as possible. It was an investment that proved to be a game-changer for the business in lockdown!” 

During and after the national lockdown, the additional functionality of their new business collaboration software became a lifeline for the team and their clients. Virtual trials and hearings using Microsoft Teams, part of Office 365, enabled the continuation of legal processes despite the restrictions.

Jane Campbell, Makin Dixon Partner says: “We have been impressed with the 3CX phone system. After tentatively trialling it in a smaller branch office we have taken the system firm wide. The app allows flexibility for users and allows us to work remotely. The system allows us as a team to operate as one and aids effective communication. It has helped coordinate our teams efficiently and provided peace of mind as we entered lockdown as it was one less thing to worry about.”

The team continues to manage its workloads by mixing remote and office-based working to ensure compliance with the on-going restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus.

“On our old system we would not have been able to cope with the organisation of call volumes working remotely as we are now,” says Jane.

Makin Dixon Solicitors is a well-established specialist family law practice with seven offices in Yorkshire and Lancashire. Its extensive team of family lawyers provide expert advice on all areas of family law, including divorce and separation, cohabitation, civil partnerships, financial relief, domestic violence, children matters and care proceedings.

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