As of today Olliers is now a paper free office. Measures have been put in place over the last few months as we moved towards digital working culminating in a fully digital environment.
- All staff in our Magistrates’ Court department have iPads and fee earners in other departments have either laptops, iPads, Macbooks or other electronic devices which are most suitable for their individual requirements. Fee earners no longer utilise previous desktop terminals.
- Olliers moved to the Cloud in 2015 to enable speedier and more reliable access to IT systems. All fee earners are able to access our systems from their electronic devices at court, at home, or indeed any location where they are able to access wifi.
- All outgoing correspondence is sent by email making use of the CJS secure email for correspondence with the CPS and courts.
- Any incoming correspondence is scanned into the client file immediately by support staff.
- We no longer have paper files for any cases.
Police Station Cases
All fee earners have a police station pro forma on their iPads. Following attendance at the police station the completed form is uploaded to the client file. Handwritten notes are scanned to the client matter and the same applies to typed disclosure given by the Police. All fee earners have an app on either their phone or iPad allowing the imaging, creation and exporting of a PDF document from handwritten notes or typed disclosure. The client’s legal aid declaration is also uploaded to the electronic file and all police station attenders have the facility for clients to sign the form on both mobile phone and iPad.
Magistrates’ Court Cases
All documentation and information relating to a case is immediately placed in the electronic case file. All fee earners are registered to use and are familiar with the following systems: CJSM secure email, PCU Wifi, The Legal Aid Agency Portal. Each case is entered into the Olliers Electronic Diary for the Magistrates’ Court. This applies whether the case is an overnight remand from the police station, first appearance, trial or indeed any other hearing. As soon as we are aware that a client is to appear in Court the IDPC (Initial Details of Prosecution case) documentation is requested electronically from the CPS using a secure CJSM account. When the IDPC documentation is received it is placed in the electronic case file. An electronic Court Attendance is completed for every court hearing. The Court Attendance Record is saved directly into the case file and clients are emailed following every hearing within 48 hours. Fee earners are able to utilise the Professional Court User (PCU) wifi at court to submit legal aid applications via the LAA online portal.
The moves align themselves with Olliers’ approach towards agile and flexible working. Staff in our Magistrates’ Court department now have calls coming into the office for them patched straight through to their mobile telephones and the moves reduce their requirement to work rigidly in our Manchester head office. We encourage flexible working and 60% of employees including the six consultants who have joined us in the last twelve months work flexibly in terms of hours and/or remote or agile working. As we continue to attract additional consultants nationwide, the flexible and agile approach of Olliers digital working is likely to prove instrumental in our recruitment.
Benefits of Digital Working
The benefits of our approach are already apparent. The client experience is substantially improved and our approach reduces administrative support required. Financially our postage and stationery costs have been substantially reduced. Previous waiting time at court, which is not paid under the legal aid provisions, is now able to be effectively utilised as fee earners have full access to all our systems via the cloud and can use any time efficiently.
David Philpott, Director and head of the Magistrates’ Department commented:
“I am delighted that Olliers is leading the way in digital working. Olliers prides itself on an innovative strategic vision and has always been at the forefront of the moves towards digital working within the Criminal Justice System. Our new streamlined procedures will undoubtedly lead to a vastly improved experience for our clients throughout the currency of their cases and a much more efficient approach. The benefits for fee earners are also readily apparent and our staff are extremely positive in relation to the moves.