TODD & WALKER Law is one of Otago/Southland’s leading all-service law firms. Led by Graeme Todd, Michael Walker, Pete Sygrove and Louise Denton, the firm specialises in property law, criminal defence, corporate and commercial, family law, resource management, civil litigation, employment law and estate planning.
The firm was established more than nine years ago, when Graeme Todd left a large local firm to launch his own practice in Queenstown.
“This is when our relationship with Focus Technology began,” says co-principal Michael Walker. “Graeme reached out to the local team to ask about his technology requirements and what he would need in the IT space to manage a successful firm.”
In its infancy, Focus assisted GTODDLaw in setting up emails, and organising and sorting data.
“As a sole trader, Graeme was working off the back of a Gmail account, and storing information via Google docs,” Michael says. “However, as the firm grew, we realised it wasn’t realistic – nor cyber-secure – to manage and store our information via Google.”
Michael joined Graeme in 2016 – creating TODD & WALKER Law as it’s known today. Working alongside the Queenstown-based Focus team, Graeme and Michael recognised the need for an IT systems upgrade – looking into alternative, modern technology platforms, systems and services.
“In terms of a law firm’s greatest assets, a strong IT platform would easily fall within the top three,” Michael says. “It can change an entire office from an old-school, ‘stuck-at-your-desk’ environment, to a modern and agile workplace. We’ve done a lot with Focus in this space, particularly in the last 24 months, ensuring our technology investments are scalable.”
A significant part of this transition was the adoption of Microsoft 365, and moving more than 20 staff from office-based desktop computers to Microsoft Surface Books.
“This was important for two reasons: we were moving into a new office in Frankton, and setting up a new satellite office in Wanaka. So, we wanted to give our staff the ability to work remotely or plug into a docking station in Queenstown or Wanaka.”
Whether it’s at home, in the office, or in the courtroom, Michael says Focus have been instrumental in providing the TODD & WALKER Law team with the tools and systems they need to access information quickly and remotely.
“In 24 months, we went from six people with desktop setups operating on a Gmail system, to more than 20 staff (now 26) on Microsoft Surface Books operating remotely or between our three offices.”
The connectivity between TODD & WALKER’s three worksites was another important step in the law firm’s IT overhaul.
“Setting up Skype for business has given us the ability to do our weekly team meetings without people having to travel inter-town,” Michael says. “That connectivity and ability to use online platforms from anywhere has been really helpful – especially in promoting workplace flexibility.”
Michael says Focus isn’t like other IT companies when it comes to managing people – there’s a level of trust there, especially when it comes to pointing out challenges and resolving them quickly.
“In my experience with other IT support companies, everything comes to a grinding halt whether the issue is significant or not. But Focus is world-class in foreseeing tech challenges and stepping in to avoid disruption.”
Michael says other IT companies he’s worked with have left the workload to a single person to manage remotely – slowing the process and aggravating staff. However, Focus are on-call and on-site whenever and wherever they’re needed.
“The Focus staff honestly feel like they’re a part of our team,” he says. “They’re involved in every way, whether it be management, strategy or decision-making.
“It makes a world of difference when you have an IT support team that can come into your office and routinely know your staff, your business, and the work you do. We’re extremely grateful for their expertise and professional advice.”
Since Covid-19 forced all non-essential businesses to work from home, the TODD & WALKER team has been in touch with Focus to thank them for their efforts, in light of the current challenges the nationwide lockdown has placed on many businesses. Focus’ support has meant that TODD & WALKER has been able to box on in testing times with relative ease, with the benefit of the IT systems they have put in place.