Few things are likely to endear tech innovations to lawyers – and to all professionals – than streamlining payment systems. Good news, then, from the government, which is looking to expand online billing systems for criminal lawyers northwards.
The Advocates’ Graduated Fee Scheme – which has had something of a rocky road, and is presumably relieved to be the bearer of good news for a change – has now been available on an online ‘application’ (as the government press release rather sweetly calls it) for those in the Northern and North East Bar Circuits since 25 January 2016. This follows a successful pilot scheme, an initial roll-out in the Midlands, and good feedback from those involved in the first tranche.
Practically speaking, chambers and solicitors’ firms will now be contacted by contract managers who will provide information on the basics: how to make claims for defence work at the Crown Courts, and what support is available for new users potentially a little wary of making their way round yet another unexplored corner of the internet.
The benefits of the online billing system are potentially manifold – largely in cutting costs, and cutting delays: the two golden objectives for any business, not least those in the legal marketplace. The billing system is simplified, and cuts out postage costs and delays, and significantly reduces printing costs with all information able to be stored online. Users can also benefit from instant notifications (one imagines that the sweet sound of a notification alert that you have been paid will be particularly welcome, if included in the software) and handwritten signatures are no longer required.
Users will be invited to continue providing feedback as they gear up to a national roll out for the remaining circuits.
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