Case Study

Ford Sumner helps Nelson Airport take off

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Consistency, efficiency and accuracy were keys for Nelson Airport in evaluating new legal services.

Major growth period meant a need to streamline legal agreements

Nelson Airport were in the market for new legal advisors. The business was experiencing considerable growth, with many new people being taken on, as well as a rise in consultancy and property management services.

CEO Rob Evans says they were reviewing processes that were in effect for creating agreements and contracts, and realised the need to streamline and make them more efficient. “The way we were handling legal agreements was a bit haphazard,” he says. “Different people doing them, different interpretations, which meant a larger scope for error.”

Not only that, but even the most casual of employment agreements meant that Rob had to spend time checking them for accuracy. “I'd have to look at it and ask: where did this come from, who wrote it, etc.,” he explains.

Of the proposals that were put forward by legal firms interested in Nelson Airport’s business, Ford Sumner stood out by offering a unique service – document automation, based on a solution provided by LawHawk. “One of the compelling reasons for selecting Ford Sumner was the approach they were taking towards electronic and cloud-based documentation,” Rob recalls. “What they were offering in terms of document automation was quite attractive. When we delved a bit deeper and gained a better understanding of the LawHawk solution, we were really impressed, and realised it was something we wanted to implement. We knew it would add some real value to the business.”

A game-changer for employment agreements

Being able to automate employment agreements was a key factor for Nelson Airport, especially since they were going through a stage that involved a lot of new hires. “The thing with employment law is that it's always changing,” Rob explains. “We have the confidence that Ford Sumner will update the employment contracts as legislative changes occur. The base document is updated, so that it's consistent with any changes in the law. We know from week-to-week as we're hiring people that the employment agreement is accurate.”

The varying styles of Nelson Airport’s employment contracts are also taken into account so that each of them has a base document that serves as a foundation on which to build the agreement. “With the LawHawk system, you just go in, enter your key metrics around dates, times, and salaries, and you have the employment agreement you need.”

Rob goes on to explain that the level of confidence provided by the system is critical. Knowing that the documents in the system are up-to-date and accurate, and include all legislative changes is key. “Instead of asking 20 questions, I can see an employment agreement has come from the LawHawk system and that the staff at Ford Sumner have checked it for accuracy,” says Rob. “It's given me greater confidence because I know with certainty that the agreements have come from the right place.”

Rob goes on to explain that the confidence he has in the automation process is down to the quality of the legal services provided by Ford Sumner. “When you access a document, it triggers them to check what you’ve done is accurate,” he says. “Having that extra level of security is one of the key elements of the service you get from Ford Sumner. You know absolutely that they’ll make certain nothing has been missed.”

A solution for all legal agreements

As most business owners are aware, if a legal contract is needed, a solicitor would usually draw it up. This is costly in both time and money, especially if the agreement is one that needs to be re-used. “What Ford Sumner have provided is something that works for all our legal documents,” Rob explains. “Property documents, lease renewals, rent reviews and leases, and of course, all our employment agreements. And the checks performed by Ford Sumner cost a lot less than instructing them to create a new agreement from scratch every time.”

Because the system is easy to use, and because it increases efficiencies in terms of time and cost, it’s had a major impact on the staff at Nelson Airport. “Feedback has been really positive,” says Rob. “It's just made their lives so much easier, now we know there's one source of our documentation, and from a storage perspective, it's all online, so we don't have any concerns about documents going missing.’’

Tip of the iceberg

Looking ahead, Rob’s enthusiastic about what Ford Sumner can do to automate more of their legal agreements. “It’s definitely an on-going process,” he says. “At the start the focus was getting those critical agreements done, like employment and lease renewals, but there's major potential for consultancy agreements which we use a lot. We have a lot of contractors coming on site, we have induction processes - the list literally goes on. So there's huge scope to carry on automating documents in a lot more key areas.”

For Rob and the staff at Nelson Airport, consistency, accuracy and efficiency are the key areas that have benefited from what Ford Sumner has been able to provide. “Even if you're a small business, it's tough to be across all legislative changes all the time,” Rob explains. “Ford Sumner are thorough, they have to be. And you've got the security of knowing that they're on top of any legislative changes and have applied those to the documents.”

About Ford Sumner

We pride ourselves on giving our clients the advice and solutions that they need to achieve their goals.  We know clients expect their lawyers to improve the way they work, and our technology, research resources and investment into staff development are centered on these areas so that our clients are assured of quality service to best practice standards for 2018 and beyond. It's important for us to go beyond finding one-off legal solutions, developing market leading business solutions that equip our clients to identify issues and avoid future problems.