During the pandemic, the main focus of the Legal Aid Agency has been to help providers continue legal aid services for clients, identifying new flexible ways of working. The pandemic has created opportunities for these providers to improve their systems by becoming more agile and therefore offer a better service.
Legal aid firms have their own specific problems, such as the closure of many courts, which having reopened are now dealing with a backlog of cases. At the start of the pandemic many law firms were still over-reliant on old and traditional systems and methodologies, relying on paper-based systems and face to face contact. By adopting new methods of working and investing in better technology they are able to continue to help those most in need. LEAP, the cloud-based practice management software provider, is supporting these legal aid firms in this process, enabling them to maintain their contract obligations, and by working closely with the Legal Aid Agency, ensure the software is up-to-date with the latest requirements.
For legal aid practitioners, LEAP provides a wealth of innovative features, automations, integrations and legal aid content. LEAP provides a completely integrated legal aid software package including case management, time recording and billing solution for both criminal and civil matter types in England and Wales. This enables remote working so legal aid practitioners can continue to work uninterrupted from anywhere, capturing time and invoicing to ensure cash flow is not affected. The LEAP Mobile app allows voice to text dictation, time recording and scanning documents on the go. Lawyers can continue to work offline from the police station with automatic syncing.
To ensure compliance and consistency across multiple locations, Legal Aid updates (forms, rates and charges) are automatically applied in line with when legislation changes occur and accessible within the software. LEAP significantly reduces the time a firm spends on billing and assists firms with the compliance and the legal aid auditing process. Automatic fixed fee allocation for billing Crime and Civil Controlled Work and integrated submission for both via CWA (contract and work administration) ensures claims can be checked and submitted electronically in readiness for payment, ensuring a faster payment.
LEAP can offer a raft of valuable resources – a library of fully automated and up-to-date legal aid forms readily available and populated with matter data where possible – including CRM11, CRM7, CRM18/CRM18A, CW1, EC-Claim1.
Looking forward, family and mediation may well get a boost once (if) we get out of the current situation – and LEAP covers both these areas of law. There is currently a Criminal Reform happening whereby they expect to inject between £35-51M into legal aid. LEAP had to recently implement the Crown Court Scheme 12, which applied an update to the fixed fees that can be claimed along with additional hourly rates for paper heavy cases. All LGFS and AGFS claims can be automatically uploaded to the Crown Court Defence portal.
LEAP supports over 560 law firms practising legal aid (35-40% of the market): for more information on the software visit legalaidsoftware.co.uk