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Doing it old school: the price may not be right

Doing it old school: the price may not be right


A key driver for firms and chambers adopting legal tech has been the potential for cutting costs. With ever-increasing demands to keep budgets tight (and to keep to tight budgets), innovations such as eDisclosure and eDiscovery are increasingly seen as essential.

Where once a veritable army of juniors and paralegals would have been required to pore over reams of documents, scanning software can make short (and accurate) work of it in a fraction of the time. And for many the days of frantically reassembling, repaginating and renumbering bundles after a last-minute bit of disclosure are thankfully long gone, with eDisclosure technology and digital bundles.

It would appear, however, that some firms are paying the price for keeping to, shall we say, the more traditional methods.

Step forward a mightily incensed Mr Justice Stuart-Smith, who has taken his judicial sword to a costs budget and slashed it by £400,000. Manchester firm JMW Solicitors – acting in a case relating to Queen’s Park Rangers Football Club – had put in a costs estimate of (deep breath) £824,000. This, for a case in which the claim itself was a mere £801,675.

The judge said, “The aggregate sum being put forward for approval is so disproportionate to the sums at stake or the length and complexity of the case that something has clearly gone wrong.”

It is worthwhile scrutinising the costs budget to see where the majority of the costs were supposed to lay. Billable hours represented a significant proportion, with the claim including 52 hours of partner time and 138 hours of associate time – adding up to a solid five and a half weeks’ work.

The judge conceded that the case was exceptional, and would require the painstaking examination of detailed claim forms. But, he said, there was ‘no justification’ for estimating such extraordinarily long hours, and slashed them to around 10 hours’ partner time and 30 hours’ associate time.

It is mere supposition of course, but one imagines that the judge might have been tempted to point the firm in the direction of any number of eDiscovery and eDisclosure software solutions, which are more or less designed to prevent layers from having to devote back-breaking hours to the scrutiny of paperwork.

If you are keen to ensure your firm is spared both a ticking-off from the bench and the possibility of a stiff bill at your local chiropractor, call Legastat now, and we can help ensure you deliver the modern – and cost-effective – service your clients deserve.