The backbone of any thriving and forward-looking Criminal Law firm is undoubtedly the Case Management Software. On one end of the spectrum we have practitioners relying on Word templates accumulated over the years on a single PC, absent any back-ups or cyber security. On the other end, we have larger firms investing tens of thousands – if not – hundreds of thousands of pounds on state of the art Apps and digital platforms.
Q: So, where is the middle ground? Which is the best Criminal CMS on the market? What is the most cost effective, but at the same time: cutting edge, up-to-date, low maintenance, stress-free, cybercrime secure (as far as possible), backed-up, Legal Aid Agency compatible, user friendly and COMPLETE system for Criminal Law practitioners to use ?
A: DPS Software’s Criminal Case Management Software.
Why you may ask? What is so special and so different about the DPS CMS?
Whilst the list of functionalities is endless, from the eyes of the Partners, the key benefits of DPS are:
a.The Lawyer is called out to the police station at 0300hrs. Equipped with a laptop / Ipad / mobile device, the Lawyer obtains the custody record and opens a file for the client using DPS’s Offline system.
b.Images of the custody record are taken using the same device and saved in the newly opened case file.
c.The police station pro forma is completed, the client is asked to sign necessary authorities by adding a signature on the mobile device.
d.The lawyer records his time in the system, returns home, synchronises the device to the internet and all the documents are uploaded onto the online system automatically.
e.Assuming the client was charged and remanded into custody, a different Lawyers is asked to attend the Magistrates’’ Court. The new Lawyer simply logs into his system and finds the police station notes uploaded.
f.Furthermore, this Lawyer receives the ‘Initial Disclosure’ sent by CJSM directly into his inbox and he immediately adds it to the CMS for retention and use by other Lawyers, by just 3 clicks of the mouse.
g.The Legal Aid application is submitted online and evidence of the same retained in the case file.
h.The Lawyer opens up the Time Recording App (ITime), adds his times, dictates his notes (which are auto-typed) and adds his time / costs to the system automatically without any further effort.
i.A Memo is sent to a Paralegal in the office, who generates the Client Care Letter and other compliance documents. The necessary letters and documents are emailed to the client using a Secure Client Communication Portal – My Legal Space.
j.The billing team are sent a Memo asking them to bill the case. They access the system, generate the CRM11 and upload the claim onto CRM6, ready to be sent to the LAA at the relevant time.
k.The entire file can be viewed in the File History, bundled together into a single PDF document and sent to whomsoever requires the file at the client’s request.
l.The CMS is complemented by a fully integrated accounting package – Financial Director. One of the biggest worries of a Partner is the incurrence of liability for disbursements without any control. Not knowing how much liability has been incurred and by whom, whether the invoices have been submitted to the accounts department and whether interim applications have been made to cushion the cash-flow issues.
m.The DPS CMS allows Lawyers to enter the details into the system very easily. This information can be auto-delivered to the accounts team periodically and allow them to manage the liability. No more nasty debt collection letters and threats to notify the SRA !
n.Whether your client is funding the case privately or by legal aid, the system caters for both and shows the Lawyer the value of the potential claim, what has been interim claimed and what the final fee should be.
o.Ledgers, profit and loss, balance sheets, reconciliations, Fee Earner performance reports and fees billed or outstanding; all can be extracted from the financial system and exported or emailed directly to your accountant to prepare the annual returns.
Challenges Faced by Criminal Defence Practitioners & Solutions
2017 continues to put substantial financial pressure on Criminal Law firms. Costs are increasing, salary expectations necessarily increase with hungry and ambitious lawyers, reported crime is decreasing, prosecutions have decreased massively, the number of legal aid contracts awarded has steadily increased and the government is hell-bent on reducing fees further.
Efficiency, effectiveness, performance and service levels are now the drivers of healthy, profitable law firms. All of these key areas are linked to the back-bone of the office; the CMS.
If you set the DPS CMS to work for you, your Lawyers will spend less time standing around photocopiers, waiting for one Fee Earner to pass the file to the other, spending time clicking in and out of different websites to download evidence and manually typing entire letters again and again. Your firm will become leaner, quicker, more reliable and profitable.
DPS Criminal Case Management Software is used by more than 4 0% of the top-20 earning Criminal Law firms. That in itself is testament to the quality of the system.
Majad J Habib - Fraud Solicitor & Managing Director at Stuart Miller Solicitors - London
Majad is a Criminal Defence practitioner specialising in the defence of Fraud, Cybercrime and associated matters. He is responsible for the management of the practice and is an avid believer of using technology to create efficiency, reduce costs, provide a better service to clients and demonstrate transparency to the Regulators.