A LOT of time, effort and money has gone into making Burn & Company, the York solicitors and business practice, a "people first" organisation.

That is why the practice is entering the Progress Through People category in the Evening Press Business of the Year awards.

Over the past 18 months, the partners have not only brought both its offices in Lendal, York, and in Acomb, up to 21st century standards in communication and IT, but have also looked to improving their client services.

They now provide independent financial advice for all clients and the ability to offer dispute resolution as an alternative to often costly and time-consuming litigation.

And it was achieved by the appointment by the partners of a Practice Development Team - and none of the partners was allowed to be part of it. The team's three members, Pauline Fox, Mathew Harrison and Michael Creamer all took North Yorkshire Training and Enterprise Council management courses, and Mathew also completed his first year of an MBA at Leeds Business School.

Mathew co-ordinated a case management computer system, with a PC on every desk, email, a direct link to the Acomb office and extensive IT training for everyone. He has since developed the firm's intranet as well as advising on the creation of a website. Pauline took charge of the bid for Investors In People status, and the accolade was achieved a year ago. Meanwhile, many of the partners and staff have undertaken external training and all staff are invited to business planning days, allowed to shape the agenda and make suggestions. No idea is regarded as too zany!