Elite global law firm seeks elite search solution
Tracing its history back to 1838 when John Linklater went into partnership with Julius Dods to form a London firm of solicitors, today Linklaters is one of the world's leading law firms with 31 offices in 21 countries and more than 5,000 employees. Much of the firm's work involves finding innovative paths through constantly evolving legislation and regulation to best serve its corporate clients.
"No two clients are the same and each client encounters unique legal challenges," Rachel Manser, Director of Knowledge and Learning at Linklaters, says. "For our clients, the ability to respond rapidly to the legal demands of their businesses is crucial."
With a focus on innovation, speed, and agility, Linklaters places enormous value in the technology that supports its staff in delivering the experience of the firm to its clients, providing legal certainty in a changing world. They constantly research the market and invest in best-in-class solutions as well as the development of their own proprietary technology.
This includes Linklaters' proprietary knowledge management platform. Known as Se@rch, it enables lawyers to search and retrieve legal documents and other knowledge assets from multiple sources including the firm's document management system, intranet, legal precedent collection, thought leadership platform, and a video library.
Discontinuation of legacy technology triggers search for new solution
The legacy backend technology at the heart of the Se@rch platform was becoming increasingly difficult to support. This left Linklaters with a choice: attempt to change the backend or rebuild an entirely new platform. Both options had the potential to cause disruption to the firm.
They sought the advice of Linklaters' digital transformation partner, Kin + Carta, which recommended Elastic to migrate the backend of its search platform to the Elastic Cloud Enterprise (ECE) stack. This enabled them to fully modernize Se@rch, with Kin + Carta replacing the data backend while keeping the original service running so there was no disruption to users.
Faster, better search results
With the implementation of Elastic, Linklaters employees experienced an immediate improvement in search query performance. On average, Elastic Enterprise Search returns results 10 times faster than the previous technology. End users also saw a significant leap in the quality of their results.
Elastic is also a far more efficient solution, reducing demand on Linklaters' systems, especially its server hardware. "Since moving to Elastic we've cut our server footprint by 67% and reduced our operating costs by the same amount," says Pilgrim.
Open technology for a future-proof solution
In addition to faster, more accurate performance, Linklaters benefits from Elastic's open technology which enables Pilgrim's team to see exactly how queries are processed and ranked. "Elastic's search technology is extremely transparent," says Pilgrim. "We get great visibility from the Kibana dashboards that run on top of Elastic and can fine tune the software to increase the relevancy of results using Elastic Cloud Enterprise orchestration."
This also means that Linklaters has complete confidence that it can continue to enhance the new Se@rch backend over time. "Building on Elastic Cloud Enterprise supports agile development and accelerates the deployment of enhancements via modern DevOps tooling," says Pilgrim.
Because Elastic runs in a container and infrastructure-as-code environment, repetitive tasks for developers are reduced along with the risk of manual errors. This streamlines development, testing, and enables automated scaling on demand as the volume of content to be searched increases over time.
Another advantage of the Elastic migration was that, while it boosted performance, it didn't alter the familiar Se@rch user interface. Employees can still enter search terms and filter materials without having to learn new methods. Even if just an hour of training per user was needed, the resulting costs could soon be impactful to a business that relies on billable hours for its revenue. "With our previous platform we were almost entirely reliant on our own resources. Now we get fantastic support from Elastic on regular calls and when we have more immediate questions," says Pilgrim.
Linklaters' move to Elastic has been enthusiastically received throughout the firm.