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Lesley Kirby
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Team Leader

Nottingham Trent University selects Virtual Cabinet Document Management Software

A large UK law school found a better way to organise administrative workload with Virtual Cabinet.

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  • Achieved 70% saving in document storage space
  • Documents now retrieved in seconds with a few clicks

Leading university transforms document storage and retrieval

Part of Nottingham Trent University in the East Midlands, Nottingham Law School (NLS) is one of the biggest law schools in Britain with a reputation for delivering high quality education and training through a wide range of academic and professional law programmes. More than 100 full-time lecturers support an undergraduate and postgraduate student population in excess of 2,000.

NLS was dealing with a number of ongoing challenges with their documents. Major issues included student back records that were consuming enormous amounts of physical storage space. The task of locating specific documents relating to student enquiries was also becoming very time consuming with the growth of documents and was not always successful. Lesley Kirby, Team Leader, Nottingham Trent University was tasked with finding a document management system that would eliminate paper filing, improve document search times and seamlessly fit NLS and University processes.

Managing large quantities of student paperwork and correspondence

Administration of student records at NLS generates large quantities of correspondence and other paperwork, much of which has to be retained long after students have completed their courses. Its popularity among prospective law students means that for every 650 places on the Legal Practice Course at NLS there may be 1200 or more applicants. It is a similar picture with the Bar Vocational Course (100 places) and the Graduate Diploma in Law (180 places). Caring for and monitoring the successful applicants during their time at NLS creates yet more paperwork for eventual archiving.

Lesley Kirby has been Team Leader, Subject Administration, for Professional Legal Studies at NLS since 1993. She has a staff of 24. During her early years in the job she discovered the onerous nature of the task of storing past students’ admissions and progress records in an accessible manner. The back records took up an enormous square-footage, whilst finding specific documents in response to an enquiry could be very hit-and-miss.

Moving from paper storage to digital filing

After selecting Virtual Cabinet as their preferred document management solution, the installation process ran smoothly. Staff training sessions delivered by Virtual Cabinet ensured that NLS were able to benefit straight away from the operating efficiencies of the Virtual Cabinet system one it was running.

"The whole set-up with Virtual Cabinet is very self-sufficient. Our technical people have had no difficulty accessing prompt and effective support whenever the odd query has arisen.”
Lesley Kirby, Team Leader, Nottingham Trent University

Whilst the Virtual Cabinet system has transformed the document management work of Lesley and her team, there have been benefits too for NLS in terms of efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Lesley estimates that there has been a 70% saving in document storage space in her office area. Document retrieval has also been revolutionised now that specific items may be identified and retrieved in seconds with a few clicks at the desktop.

“Savings in staff time have been phenomenal, assisted by outsourcing of document scanning to a specialist company in Tamworth.”
Lesley Kirby, Team Leader, Nottingham Trent University

Lesley's team may need to access only a few archive documents each week, which would take forever under the old processes. It is now very quick as Virtual Cabinet document management software provides an audit trail to show which documents have been accessed when and by whom.

“Following the transition to Virtual Cabinet we are now reaping the benefits, and I would not want to go back to the system of manual access to physical records – not in a million years.”
- Lesley Kirby, Team Leader, Nottingham Trent University

Like any educational establishment, NLS is required to have a robust system of record keeping that is reliable and also offers the appropriate degree of confidentiality for students’ personal records. In addition to the normal scrutiny applied to all universities, NLS is subject to monitoring by the legal profession’s governing body, The Law Society. After a three day monitoring visit to NLS - shortly after the transition to Virtual Cabinet - focusing on the Legal Practice Course, The Law Society reported that NLS had “an able, committed and professional teaching team and administrative and technical support staff” grading NLS as “excellent” for overall quality of its LPC provision.

"I am very pleased all round that NLS had the foresight to make the investment in Virtual Cabinet.”
- Lesley Kirby, Team Leader, Nottingham Trent University

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