“Using case management software on our iPads has revolutionised our business.”
A bold statement from a lawyer leading the pack when it comes to disrupting the way court lawyers operate and run their firms.
One reason lawyers love their mobile devices is because they’re convenient, help them work/communicate on the go and for the most part increase productivity. I don’t think anyone could really argue with that. However, if your law firm doesn’t use tablets, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in the majority when it comes to court lawyers in this country.
Selling the dream
If you don’t use a tablet in court, you’ve probably contemplated getting one. But can you really use one to practice more effectively? Tech experts, like us, say “yes” and tell you how to use mobile devices to increase productivity and gain an edge in the courtroom. However, is that just ‘techy’ BS – a way of providers selling the dream of a paperless existence?
When it comes to using your case management system, accessing/bundling court documents, taking notes and communicating with your clients, can it really be done in such a way that works in real life? And perhaps more importantly, means you don’t feel lost without that glorious piece of tangible, fibrous material you have clung on to for all these years?
Going paperless in court for real
Many clients of ours have done it. That’s right, they bit the bullet and one day just stopped producing paper files. Was it easy? No. Was there some apprehension and trepidation about walking into court with a bit of tech instead of the ever reliable mountain of tangible paper files? Absolutely yes! But the proof is in the pudding. When a lawyer tells you that something is “revolutionising” the way they run their business that’s normally when ears prick up.
We reached out to Matthew McGovern and asked him about how him and his partner, Bobby Reid, are changing the game in court…
When did you start introducing new tech into your practice?
“We had seen the Crown going paperless and operating iPads in court and we thought that we should be doing the same. We also felt that the administrative burden placed upon us by both our client base and the court was becoming increasingly unmanageable and that technology could be offer us significant time savings as well as reducing costs in the medium term. In April of last year, we started using Denovo’s CaseLoad and during the summer, we invested in iPads with keyboards and pencils. We now use our iPads at court daily and are carrying fewer and fewer paper files. It’s revolutionised the way we work”.
What are some of the key challenges you faced when introducing new technology?
“The first challenge that we had to consider was whether the transition to technology would be affordable for us. The majority of our work is funded through legal aid and the fee rates are ultimately a significant barrier to investing in and developing our firm. Whilst the technology and software required an investment, that has been offset against a reduction in expenditure in other areas of the business and our initial analysis is that the technology that we’ve introduced will represent a significant saving to the firm over the course of the next couple of years.
Choosing a technology partner was another challenge. We shopped around but we weren’t sold on anyone until we met with Denovo. We liked their product but, more importantly, we liked them. Other suppliers had provided a virtual tutorial whereas Denovo came out and met with us and then invited us to their office to view CaseLoad. Their customer service is fantastic! What is striking is that they clearly operate very much as a team, so when you meet someone for the first time, whilst you don’t know them, they know you, your firm and your vision for your firm, which makes a big difference. Good service is difficult to achieve but easy to recognise and Denovo’s service not only stood out at the outset but continues to stand out for us.”
How has technology improved your working practices?
“The biggest improvement is the service that we are able to offer our clients. This is most noticeable when an accused is appearing from custody. An accused is never more vulnerable or volatile when being told that their bail is opposed. It can be difficult to obtain full instructions from them. We can now access multiple files for the client, which allow us to address the court fully about the client’s circumstances. Whilst this might seem like an anodyne example, the easiest way to lose a criminal client is to get them remanded and there have been several occasions this year when the difference between the sheriff granting or refusing bail has been the information, we have been able to access through CaseLoad on our iPads.
Are you planning on introducing more tech in 2024?
“I would like to see greater use of technology within the criminal justice system. We have been able to save witness statements and productions that are disclosed to us on to CaseLoad, but operating CCTV evidence disclosed to the Crown has proved a challenge. CCTV evidence if often decisive in cases and the earlier that we would be able to access CCTV footage, the sooner the case could resolve.
We are also planning to start using Bundledocs. As court lawyers we need to keep track of lots of different documents. Bundle production is real drag on our resources. We know digital tools can save us up to 80% of our own and our support staff’s time. The real benefit to us of using e-bundling software is to manage the high volume document cases we have efficiently. Every bundle is automatically numbered, indexed, hyperlinked, and bookmarked for quick and easy access. Documents can be uploaded directly from CaseLoad. This is going to be a real game changer for us.”
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