Internet Newsletter for Lawyers
July/August 2003, by Delia Venables

Barristers can have Intranets too - an Intranet for Wilberforce Chambers
by Michael Mclean

One of the main problems facing any office is how to manage information in such a way that is easily accessible to everyone. This is especially true of a Barrister’s chambers or Solicitor offices which generate lots of legal documents as well the usual administrative paperwork. Having an office network can improve the situation as documents can be stored electronically in a central place (e.g. a shared drive) for instantaneous access. However, having a large number of files still makes trawling through folders to find a specific file a time consuming task.

What is needed is a system for finding and displaying these documents (and other useful pieces of information) in a single place so they can be easily accessed by anyone with a standard internet browser. Whitespace Software (www.whitespace.co.uk) have recently completed an intranet for Wilberforce Chambers (www.wilberforce.co.uk) to help them do just that. Note that you cannot see the Intranet from just looking at the website.

wilberforce intranet
When Wilberforce Barristers and Clerks use the intranet they see a menu with links to different sections of the site (e.g. memos, case documents) and a large area for displaying documents and other information. Selecting a section will show a list of documents that can be accessed by clicking on them. The intention of this is so the user can get to any file in a few clicks.

New documents and sections can be added to the menu from within the intranet using administration pages, allowing the chambers clerks to decide the best way to arrange the information on the site. For example, to add a new case document to a section a clerk just needs to enter its title, choose the “Case Documents” section from a drop down list of those available and then find the file’s location on the network using a special browser window.

Legal documents that are added to the site can have extra relevant information about them stored, so a search can be done on a Barrister, Court etc.

As well as those files stored on the local network, clerks can add documents stored on the internet or add external websites to the links section. These are accessed from the intranet in the same way as normal documents so navigating around the site appears seamless.

The intranet has pages for displaying internal and external contacts, an events diary, and a database of the books and publications in the Wilberforce chambers libraries. This puts within reach the information that Barristers and Clerks need to do their day to day business and the means to add to and update it. Future work on the intranet may include integrating it with their website so some of the information is available on the internet.

Michael Mclean is an Intranet Developer at Whitespace Software (www.whitespace.co.uk).
email michael.mclean@whitespace.co.uk.

Back to Contents.