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The Oscar for best legal tech goes to...

The Oscar for best legal tech goes to…


It’s Oscar week, and devotees of film have woken up to disappointments and triumphs, to the inevitable pictures of actresses sporting uncomfortable gowns on red carpets, and awkward moments on the podium. Meanwhile, in the rather more modest but arguably more significant Local Government Chronicle (LGC) Awards 2015, eleven local authorities have found their legal teams shortlisted for the Driving Efficiency Through Technology award.

This is the kind of event which to the disinterested observer might appear faintly amusing: a local awards ceremony no doubt hosted by whichever real-life equivalent of Alan Partridge was available on the day.

But for those who understand the crucial importance of using legal tech to deliver the most efficient legal services in ever sector, it’s heartening to see the efforts of local authority legal teams recognised in this fashion. Cuts to local authority funding have profound effects on the local community, and so any efforts to maximise efficiency within legal departments is to be applauded.

Over at Nottingham County Council, the award nomination comes largely in recognition of their efforts to streamline their legal processes by shifting wherever possible from traditional paper and hard copy formats to electronic documentation. It offers a very useful case study in demonstrating the significant costs savings that can be achieved by switching to swift, secure and efficient IT solutions as part of daily legal practice.

According to a Notts-based New Journal, the approach reduced the Council’s expenditure on legal services by a rather remarkable 46% in two years. Crucially, this cost saving enabled it to bring back its in-house team devoted to handling child protection cases – a heartening instance of savings made via legal tech being ploughed back into crucial legal services.

Among the changes brought to the Council’s legal services include operating wholly electronic case files; scanning all incoming mail to create electronic documentation; switching to electronic court bundles; piloting digital courtrooms; and using secure Cryptshare technology to protect and share confidential documents.  The use of digital bundles in particular has attracted national interest as an exemplar of what can be achieved when a local authority embraces legal tech: all magistrates courts cases are not communicated and conducted entirely electronically.

Key financial savings including an 85% reduction in the amount of paper and toner cartridges used (as any legal professional knows, toner cartridges frequently appear to cost more than extremely fine wines), and a 60% reduction in administrative support. That the savings have benefited the local community by enabling better child protection services is, of course, the most positive aspect to their efforts.

Whether Nottinghamshire County Council will walk away with this particular ‘Oscar’ remains to be seen – but certainly their in-house legal team has demonstrated, on a national level, the extraordinary benefits of bringing legal practices unto the twenty-first century.

If you are looking to ensure your own practice benefits from the speed and efficiency offered by ahead-of-the-curve legal IT solutions, contact Legastat now for the best in professional litigation support.