Customer stories

Legal Aid Western Australia

Legal Aid WA builds winning case for digital transformation. Largest single provider of legal aid services in Western Australia replaces legacy system with OpenText Extended ECM Platform, builds new content culture to enhance service


  • Previous document management platforms were difficult to scale and meet new digital evolution requirements
  • A lack of integration between core business solutions caused information to be duplicated and scattered across disparate systems


  • Established a secure, integrated single source of truth for confidential content

  • Migrated 15 million documents for access by close to 400 users with minimal training

  • Positioned organization for digital transformation of critical client services


Legal Aid is committed to making legal services in family, civil and criminal law matters accessible to all Western Australians. Legal Aid WA meets these needs with close to 400 lawyers and support staff in 10 offices. To offer client-centered aid well into the future, the largest single provider of legal services in Western Australia trusts OpenText for Enterprise Content Management (ECM) established with collaborative design and visionary planning.

Scales of justice

Extended ECM has been deployed in a very consultative and collaborative way and people are coming to us to explore what other functionality they can get out of the system.

Lee Baker
Director of Business Services, Legal Aid WA

Need for change

Following an approved application, a wide range of correspondence is required among Legal Aid WA professionals, its partners and clients. Much of the communication is highly sensitive and demands strict confidentiality. Previous methods for managing content at Legal Aid were not primed for digital evolution. They were also met with resistance by employees who were often left frustrated with generic information classification that did not reflect the way they worked.

For many documents, hard copies were placed into a file and delivered to the appropriate legal team. For electronic content, Legal Aid WA’s legacy system lacked options for advanced workflow and collaboration. It also lacked integration with core business solutions. Often, information was duplicated and scattered across disparate systems, complicating access as well as compliance with state requirements for circulation and storage. The COVID-19 pandemic also brought about a rise in alternative connections to services, with clients calling the telephone hotline as well as video and chat sessions.

“Australia is a very big county. In Western Australia we have a lot of people living in regional and remote locations,” noted Lee Baker, Director of Business Services for Legal Aid WA. “Meeting today’s challenges is about changing how we deliver our services to continue to reach those people that need our assistance.”

Embarking on the journey

Working to serve people in situations of disadvantage or special need no matter their resources or location, Legal Aid WA developed a pathway for digital collaboration, led by Chief Information Officer Graham Hilton and built on the OpenText™ Extended ECM Platform for next generation content management.

With integration to core business systems, an intuitive user interface and connected workspaces, Extended ECM connected Legal Aid WA’s executive and service teams, especially as they worked crossorganization for needs assessment and planning. “Technology has played an important role in efficiency and recording,” Hilton noted. “But, we’re about to embark on a major change with a focus on how we can use technology to improve the delivery of services to clients, as well as provide that back room efficiency.”

Our digital transformation program will make content more readily available to the people who are providing services to our clients so it can improve the delivery of those services.

Graham Hilton
Chief Information Officer, Legal Aid WA

In its forward movement, Legal Aid WA worked with OpenText Gold partner, Hayes Information Systems to build a roadmap, migrate 15 million documents and support the end-to-end content management solution. “In some ways the choice of the partner who we trusted was probably as important as the choice of product,” Hilton said. “We knew Extended ECM had the potential to do the things we wanted to do, but having a partner who could actually make that happen was really important."

Changing the culture

To replace a legacy system that was mandated and unpopular, Hilton and his team took a more effective course. They partnered with Hayes Information Systems to welcome input and invite business providers along for the journey. The anticipated verdict: a solution law professionals would like using and find valuable. Hilton: “We worked with the approach that if the system was easy to use and provided benefits, then people would want to come on board.” Baker concurred: “Extended ECM has been deployed in a consultative and collaborative way and people are coming to us to explore what other functionality they can get out of the system. It’s happening organically.”

Among capabilities of the new end-to-end content services solution:

  • Extended ECM allows each team to structure classification relevant to the way they work. Hilton: “They have greater control over the information and greater ownership of the way they store and access that information."
  • A web-based, intuitive user interface minimizes transition. “We found we didn’t have to train staff,” Hilton said. “We provided online resources, then they just jumped in and started using the system."
  • OpenText™ Brava!™ provides viewing and collaboration within the secure system to ensure confidentiality and compliance.
  • Integration for current and upcoming business systems as well as content storage in the cloud positions Legal Aid for future growth.

Initial processes include emails and documents the corporate and executive teams work with on a daily basis. The same content for all will be added for the criminal and family divisions, though client applications are already delivered electronically rather than being delayed in the mail. Baker: “We’re in the early stages, but it’s been received enthusiastically.” In fact, she noted, though a small number of licenses were used with the old system, in response to user feedback, Legal Aid WA increased its Extended ECM licenses to 350, enough to accommodate all staff members.

Welcome outcomes

Legal Aid WA is working to ensure its team members spread across the state of Western Australia will have easy and collaborative access to client information. The agency plans to move and integrate its core business systems within a cloud environment, including Extended ECM, grant, financial and client management systems as well as other applications. “Extended ECM is facilitating all of what needs to happen for our digital transformation program,” Baker said. “That means every staff member across the state—which is broad and remote—will have access to all the information they need to provide the best experience for our clients.” Hilton agreed: “Our digital transformation program will make content more readily available to the people who are providing services to our clients so it can improve the delivery of those services.”

Since many clients need help numerous times throughout their lives, building the content profile every time they touch Legal Aid WA is critical, according to Baker. “Problems tend to snowball and escalate,” she noted. “The better they are managed early on, the better outcome for the client.” To reach these goals, Legal Aid WA will continue building on Extended ECM Platform. Working with Hayes Information Systems, the organization made a solid start with an efficient rollout of the new system even during a pandemic forcing staff to work from home. In a position of trust for clients in need, Legal Aid WA is confident OpenText will enhance service with cloud-based integration into the future.

For other organizations investigating ECM, Baker and Hilton agree the key to success lies in close collaboration, with compliance built in. He noted: “With Extended ECM, we’ve focused on the way the business wants to use content and how the system can help them use content better.”

About Legal Aid Western Australia

Legal Aid Western Australia (WA) supports a fair and safe community for millions of residents in the country’s largest state. The government agency responds to requests from citizens in need, such as a couple asking for dispute resolution services, a senior requesting representation for elder abuse, or a person seeking legal assistance to defend their criminal charges.

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