A county council’s legal services team has been shortlisted in the Driving Efficiency Through Technology category of the Local Government Chronicle 2015 awards.
The legal team at Nottinghamshire was recognised for its extensive work on switching from paper to electronic and online solutions, which has helped to streamline processes.
The council said the new approach had led to significant financial savings, reducing its expenditure on legal services by 46% in the last two years.
“This has helped the team to bring back in-house its complex child protection work to help vulnerable children in Nottinghamshire - a move which is likely to continue saving the council £850,000 each year,” it added.
Nottinghamshire said the key changes following a review of the legal team’s office processes were:
- scanning all incoming mail to create electronic documents;
- operating wholly electronic case files;
- standardising how files were saved and named to make them easy to find and giving people greater flexibility to work online from home or different sites;
- using inexpensive, off-the-shelf software to create electronic court bundles without the need for printing and photocopying;
- developing and piloting digital court rooms with the Nottinghamshire Family Courts;
- piloting the use of and sending files securely by email (irrespective of file size) using Cryptshare technology which requires a password to open any confidential documents.
The legal team has as a result reduced the number of photocopiers from four to one. The time spent by staff photocopying has been cut by the equivalent of 53 weeks.
There has also been an 85% reduction in the amount of paper and toner cartridges used and a 60% reduction in administrative support.
Geoff Russell, Team Manager, Litigation says: “This is revolutionising the way that our Family Courts are run. There are tremendous benefits and savings for all parties, not to mention better outcomes for children and families as cases are conducted and heard in a more cost effective and efficient way.
"Changing the way we work has been hard work but the benefits are impressive, particularly the opportunity to reinvest some of the savings we have made which, in turn, yields furthers savings such as taking back in-house our specialist child protection legal work.”
Sorriya Richeux, Team Manager, Corporate and Environmental Law, explains: “It’s been a real team effort to get here and our staff are just amazing. Without their resilience, willingness to embrace new concepts and at times, their patience, to take new ideas forward, this would not have been possible. I am delighted that our combined efforts are being recognised at a national level by the LGC 2015 awards.”
See also: The E-Courtbundle has landed – Geoff Russell reports on the pilot of technology in childcare proceedings in Nottinghamshire.
For more information on the LGC Awards, click here.