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Putting the "smart" into "smartphone"

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Putting the ‘smart’ into ‘smartphone’

In the latest despatch from what we can think of as Truly Modern Times, a smartphone and some sophisticated practice management software has been all that stood between a certain South London gentleman (whom we shall call Mr X) and a criminal trial.

The notion of the Virtual Court is not, of course, very recent: the first Virtual Courts (dispensing Actual Justice) were rolled out back in 2012 in a pilot in Kent. Using video links to enable lawyers, defendants and magistrates to communicate without having to be in the same postcode, witnesses are able to give evidence from the police station.

One can readily see the charms of the Virtual Court from the perspective of the police, and those holding the purse-strings: swift, efficient, cheap. It is equally easy to see how lawyers and their clients might prefer the time to consult face to face – however welcome legal tech may be, there are sometimes no substitutes for the personal touch.

A recent incident, however, showed quite what can be achieved when the personal touch of a dedicated lawyer meets the opportunities provided by legal tech. When Mr X was charged and detained in Plumstead Police Station, his defence team had a bit of a hunch that all was not well with elements of the case, particularly when it came to evidence of ‘previous’ brought by the CPS. In the past, such a hunch would (if it acted on at all) have entailed a time-consuming and circuitous process of pulling files and perusing documents – but these are the times of the smartphone. The solicitor turned to his iPhone to access the firm’s case management software, and almost immediately found his client’s full case history, including what had befallen Mr X in his previous brushes with the law.

The documents showed that the charges being made were wholly incorrect and unsubstantiated, and they were summarily dropped, and Mr X released to the bosom of his family.

A small incident to be sure, but one which serves to demonstrate how fundamental the use of legal tech is becoming to the daily practice of chambers and firms. It has moved on from being a means to demonstrate a willingness to embrace quirky, daring or innovative measures – a 21st century feather in a 20th century cap, as it were – and become intrinsic to offering an effective legal practice.

If you are keen to ensure your own firm or chambers is equipped to respond swiftly and effectively to crises as they arise – whether immediately accessing case management software tailored for mobile use, using eDisclosure to speed up case preparation, or any of legal life’s slings and arrows – contact Legastat now for expert advice. 

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