Swayne Johnson, which traces its roots back over 170 years to its humble beginnings in Denbigh, now has six offices across Cheshire and North Wales, has seen a 60% per cent spike in enquiries since lockdown.
The leading law firm has seen such a rise in demand for wills and family-related enquiries during the COVID-19 lockdown it has launched a new remote service developed by a former computer games inventor.
Simultaneously there has been a rise in enquiries in relation to, Powers of Attorney and family law issues around arrangements concerning children and finances.
Social distancing has meant the firm’s lawyers donned in gloves and armed with hand-sanitiser getting signatures in gardens and through open windows while family courts are operating remotely via video and telephone conferencing.
Lynette Viney-Passig, director and head of the Private Client department, puts much of that down to the current pandemic and said, “It has certainly concentrated minds where wills are concerned. Understandably, people are anxious and have sought reassurance that the firm remains open for business and they can still get a professionally prepared will and advice on getting their affairs in order. We had been looking for some time at online systems that would help us to improve the accessibility of our services and engage with clients at their convenience and we came across Settify. We’re delighted to be the first firm in Wales to introduce it. Clients can now visit our website and start the will making process in the comfort of their own home and at a time that suits them. They can use the online system to enter as much or as little information as they feel comfortable with. Settify then intelligently uses that information to guide the client through the will making process, explaining terminology and highlighting points for consideration along the way. Once a client has engaged with us using Settify, we allocate the new matter to a member of our excellent team of lawyers who then makes contact to discuss the best way to move forward. At the moment, we are meeting with clients over the telephone or via video conferencing. Once the will has been prepared and is ready to be signed we are happy to visit clients at home to complete the signing, taking gloves and hand sanitiser with us, but if necessary we can even do that remotely, watching and telling clients when and where they and their witnesses need to sign. With the cooperation of helpful neighbours acting as witnesses when necessary we have been able to do all that while observing social distancing.”
Head of Settify UK, Edward Kirk, said, “The system was invented in Australia three years ago by family lawyer Max Paterson and IP and Corporate lawyer Athol Birtley. Athol is also a programmer and in his teens created a computer game which was acquired by video games giants, Electronic Arts. Settify is taking off in the UK as more and more people are looking to do things online, particularly given the lockdown. For lawyers it’s about making their services accessible and meeting clients where and when they want to rather than expecting them to take a couple of hours out of their day to come to the office.”