Automated page layout tool saves designers months of work

  • 2,200 page legal directory used to take months to lay out manually 
  • Layout automation tool now assembles entire publication overnight
  • Files are in standard InDesign format and designers can adjust layout settings where necessary
  • Transformation in productivity enables business to expand range of publications with fewer staff

6 people, 8 weeks

Time to lay out Chambers Legal Guide manually

0 people, 6 hours

Time to lay out Chambers Legal Guide using layout automation tool

The challenge

Chambers and Partners publish a prestigious annual guide to legal firms and lawyers – the Chambers Legal Guide. The legal guide is broken down into practice area and geographical area, and helps clients choose a law firm. It’s a huge, comprehensive publication that consists of around 2,200 pages of detailed information. 

The guide’s content comes from research that Chambers and Partners carries out by contacting businesses worldwide to ask their views on the law firms they use. This information is stored in a database developed by Chambers and Partners IT team. It takes 6 people 8 weeks to lay out the book — several thousand pages — by manually copying the data from the database and pasting it in to InDesign. This a serious bottleneck for the business’s publishing schedule. It is also a vastly tedious task, with each team member repeating the same process hundreds of times – and a recipe for human error.

Our solution 

We developed a bespoke system to automate the layout process. Our dynamic typesetting tool draws different elements from the database, including names, addresses, contact details, practice areas, rankings and editorial copy, formats the information and lays it out following standard design rules. It can produce 3,500 fully-designed pages overnight. It outputs InDesign files – not static PDFs – which means the design team can review and tidy up the layouts where necessary. And there is no learning curve for using a new piece of typesetting software. It’s effortless. 

The system is also able to produce comprehensive indexes that sequence key information alphabetically, geographically, etc. This is an extremely time-consuming task for human beings and now is done almost instantly.

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The impact 

A task that took 48 person-weeks to complete is now done overnight. This enormous productivity gain has freed up months of design team time and, as a direct result, Chambers and Partners has been able to launch new overseas legal guides in different languages for different markets. These new products have opened up major new business opportunities for Chambers and Partners.

The transformation journey

Requirement analysis

We took time to understand the layout process, the design parameters, and the different types of information drawn from the database.

Bespoke software design and build

Because Chambers and Partners’ database was custom-made, we developed a custom solution for extracting the right data. It was a highly successful collaboration with the company’s IT team: we moulded our work around their existing infrastructure and liaised closely every step of the way.

Continuous improvement

We originally built the system in 2007 and has proved so successful that we have extended it to work with new languages and data types in the years since and is still in use.

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“We just watch as the system does everything - it's really fast.”

Jasper John

Production Manager, Chambers & Partners

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Services used

InDesign layout automation

Automate the time-consuming and uncreative process of adding content into an existing design template. Our page layout software is perfect for guides, catalogues, directories and listings.

Business applications

Explore a range of proven software tools for streamlining different business tasks. From audits to quality checks, we customise our apps for your specific needs.

Bespoke software

Transform productivity and efficiency with a software system designed specifically for your business. We build systems that can tackle specific challenges or work across your entire workflow.

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