ActiveWeb brings square mile lawyers up to the minute

THE CLIENT

The City of London Law Society (CLLS) and the City of London Solicitors' Company (CLSC) are the two halves of a membership association exclusively for solicitors practising in the City of London.

The City of London Law Society is one of the largest local Law Societies in the United Kingdom. It represents more than 13,000 of the 17,000 solicitors practising in the Square Mile through individual and corporate membership. These lawyers make up more than 15 per cent of the profession in England and Wales. The CLLS's professional work is conducted through 17 specialist committees drawn from the society's membership, who meet regularly to discuss pending legislation, law reform and practice issues in their fields. These specialist committees provide unique City expertise and have regularly influenced the Government's law reform activities.

The City of London Solicitors' Company is the livery company for City solicitors. It runs a variety of social events and charitable activities for members.


THE BUSINESS CHALLENGE

The CLLS had a website which was 10 years old and had not changed in that time, so it looked old fashioned and relied on outdated technology.

If Liz Thomas, the administrator in charge of updating the website, wanted to add additional pages, she had to call Transputec to ask them to make the changes.

The firm put out a quarterly newsletter for its members, but it had to be loaded each time by Transputec, because the CLLS system did not have the capacity to add large documents. The outdated technology meant that the search engine was not able to search documents loaded onto the site.

"The website was fantastic when we started it, but it was 10 years old and was looking dated," said Liz. "The technology had moved on while our site had stood still.

"It was a very basic site and we knew we could be doing more with it.”

"We had a long standing relationship with Transputec because they had built the original site and we had been very happy with them, so we turned to them to build our new site."


THE SOLUTION

Transputec built a new website using a specially-designed version of ActiveWeb, its own content management system, and moved all the existing pages on to the new system, as well as creating new pages. ActiveWeb, built using Microsoft's .NET framework, devolves greater control to CLLS and removes the gatekeeper effect of web publishing.

It has an administration panel which allows new pages, images and documents to be loaded easily without any technical help. Daniel McGinley, Transputec project manager, said: "By using ActiveWeb as the technology behind the website, we could give CLLS greater flexibility than they had on the old website." "Whereas the make-up of websites used to be controlled by technicians, ActiveWeb allows anyone to do it."

Although Liz has no technical background, she is now in complete control of the website and its content.

The website also has a more modern look and feel, and is more colourful and easily navigable. The search engine allows users to search all the available documents.

"I can load lengthy documents which I couldn't do before," said Liz. "Previously I would have had to pick up the phone and ask Transputec to do it."


THE BENEFITS

"Our website is now much more flexible and I can update it as soon as I have new information, which can sometimes be every day," said Liz. "I can also add separate sections and pages. "For example, we are running a big conference in October and I will be setting up a conference section on the website. "We have had some really positive feedback about the new site. People felt that the old site looked its age and needed updating.”

"I'm not a technical person, so it's important that changes are easy to make. Loading documents is so much easier than before."

The City of London Law Society sends out a regular e-briefing to its members on the work of its 17 specialist committees. This was previously sent as a plain e-mail, but with Transputec's help, it is now in full colour and replicates the style of a webpage. Members using the site can now navigate easily and have ready access to all reports produced by the 17 specialist committees, as well as the social and charitable events organised by the City of London Solicitors' Company. They can also download both the applications forms to join the society and the quarterly newsletter, which Liz can easily upload.

The website presents a sleek, professional service to its members, while saving administration time behind the scenes.