Alternative legal service provider recognized for its work supporting CMS
26th JUNE, 2019 – LONDON, UK – The range of legal and business support services Integreon provides to law firms and legal departments continues to expand to meet client needs. This latest award showcases the work of the alternative legal service provider within the finance department at CMS. Integreon’s 28 strong dedicated credit control team, based within CMS’ Sheffield office, helps to manage more than £500 million of revenue each year on behalf of the firm.
Law firms CMS Cameron McKenna, Nabarro and Olswang hit the headlines in May 2017 when they completed the largest legal merger in UK history to create one of the world’s largest law firms. Now spread over 73 offices with more than 7,000 staff and an annual revenue of more than £900 million, Integreon has been supporting programmes of post-merger integration to help the law firm reconcile the three large independent firms into a single entity, especially where finance operations support is concerned. Among the challenges CMS faced was the need to implement a new credit control process that would match the greatly enlarged requirements of the monthly billing cycle and reconcile outstanding legacy invoices.
A new solution to an old problem
The ability to keep cash flowing is a critical issue for all finance teams, but credit control can be even more challenging in the legal sector if effective practices aren’t set up to ensure clear and consistent billing, prompt collection and effective dispute resolution. Integreon has applied its knowledge of legal practices and processes to become a specialist in credit management in the legal sector. Its highly trained team works closely with fee earners to help instill best practices in quoting and billing for work, so as to maintain strong client relationships, avoid unexpected bills and resolve disputes, while ensuring debt is promptly and efficiently collected with the professional courtesy expected of a leading law firm.
Although alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) are best known for providing outsourced services via offshore in low-cost jurisdictions, such as Mumbai and Manila, Integreon has pioneered providing such services onshore; first in the US and then the UK, before opening offices in India and the Philippines. Many of its specialist teams operate in-house at client premises, as is the case with CMS.
A 28-strong Integreon credit control team sits in-house at CMS in Sheffield and is fully embedded into the firm’s operations, but operates on a supplier basis to predefined criteria and processes. This includes strict quarterly cash collection targets and the need to recover historical ‘delinquent’ debt, as well as routine debt collection from late payers. It is also Integreon’s ability to regularly exceed its quarterly target that led it to be named the ‘Commercial Credit Management Team of the Year’ at 2019 Credit Awards.
Awards for excellence
In addition, the judges’ recognized the training and development practices put in place by Integreon to build, support and maintain the team, including the creation of a bespoke training plan that focuses specifically on credit control in the legal sector, wider industry training through Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM) apprenticeships and leadership development training and courses, all fostering an ethos of continuous improvement within the team.
Incentives were also evolved from targets based on productivity (e.g. call volumes and wrap time) to Integreon’s team members based on personal and professional progress. It was this focus on people that also enabled the Integreon team to generate such impressive results for CMS.
“Profit per partner sits at the heart of most law firm models, but fee earners are specialists in the provision of legal advice, not in credit control or debt collection,” said Integreon Senior Account Director, Paul Townsend, commenting on the award. “It is also not the best use of their time. For that reason, innovative law firms, such as CMS, are partnering with Integreon to shore up their billing and credit control functions. This includes the growing and significant use of e-billing technologies, as well as client due diligence checks, debtor management, disbursement reconciliation, management of external vendors and daily reporting on billing, cash collection and credit notes.”
Andrew Richards, Finance Director at CMS, added: “Integreon’s credit control team has regularly surpassed our expectations in their ability to work with fee earners to collect outstanding debt, while maintaining strong client relationships. They play an important role in our finance team and we are delighted that they have been recognized as Commercial Credit Management Team of the Year at the 2019 Credit Awards.”