LEAP, the largest independent provider of software to law firms worldwide, has written a white paper on implementing a technology strategy for building a sustainable crime legal aid practice. This follows the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) review, published in December 2021, considering the future and long-term sustainability of the criminal legal aid system.The white paper is written in anticipation of the government publishing its response by the end of March 2022.
The white paper recommends the key items that crime legal aid firms should be thinking about at the moment to help boost the fragile margins of profitability and sustainability such as:
- Fully embedding a single system to run their firm. In order to account for the 24/7 nature of criminal legal aid. Solicitors are dependent, at any given time, on reliable and accurate information whether working from the office, attending the police station or out at court. By implementing a single system to run their practice mobile criminal legal aid lawyers have everything they need close at hand.
- Implementing a technology solution to help with the heavy lifting. Technology can provide huge benefits to the way criminal lawyers work by automating the processes that they follow. By improving the accuracy and speed of document production, the recording of their attendance and time, and by overcoming the complexities of claiming for payment from the Legal Aid Authority (LAA) powerful technology can provide the perfect partner to streamline key tasks and improve productivity.
- Efficiency and risk-reduction. Helping to minimise any risk of firms losing their legal aid contract, technology can deliver compliance, accuracy and consistency to the way criminal lawyers practice. With the right technology in place firms can avoid misreporting and mis-accounting, or losing cases as a result of poor communication, misplaced evidence or documentation.
Christina Grzasko, author of the white paper, expert on legal aid billing systems and long-time crusader for law firms that do legal aid work says:
“Legal aid practice isn’t for the faint hearted because you are facing the kind of problems that don’t beset any other type of business. Everything you do is political and subject to government schemes. This can make long term business planning very difficult. It takes a certain kind of determination and belief in the importance of legal aid to survive in this environment. It also takes some hard-headed business approaches to help reduce the risks the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) can present to your business. Sustainability is a huge issue, allied with staff retention, and much of it comes down to the 24-hour nature of the work and the low rates of pay.”
Legal Aid practice is a very specific discipline that can only be successfully managed by efficient, well trained staff supported by a single, embedded productivity solution. LEAP is a fully integrated legal software system that covers every aspect of legal aid practice from police station to crown court, defence statements to LAA audit reports, totally mobile and up to date at all times.
LEAP Legal Software has been helping small to mid-sized law firms to become more efficient and profitable, globally, for more than 25 years.