Legal Aid Reforms – How can we survive the cuts?

Advice on how to maximise your Legal Aid contracts in the light of the proposed reforms.

Welcome to my first blog on the TLF website. My name is David and I have been working at The Law Factory since 1998. During this time, I have worked in a large number of different Law Firms and witnessed many changes. None more so than in Legal Aid practises where the goal posts are constantly changing and sometimes survival can be the greatest concern!

The latest proposals for Legal Aid reform are working their way through Parliament as I write this and will probably receive Royal Assent next spring. Some elements will come as no surprise, especially the ones that have a financial impact such as:

1) Fees to be cut in civil and criminal matters from October 2011 and cut in family (unified contract) from February 2012. The cut will be 10% across the board on hourly rates.

2) Large areas within housing, welfare benefits, employment, family and debt are to be removed from scope. The exceptions in these areas are where there is a serious risk of harm to the health or safety of the client or a member of their family (in housing a serious risk of losing their home).

What does this mean for law firms with social welfare, housing and family contracts?

At The Law Factory, we have always been involved with Legal Aid firms and over the years we have developed many ways to help firms maximise their contract’s value. Despite the Legal Aid reforms we know that with the right guidance we can help you make your contract more profitable and we can quickly identify the areas where money is lost. A full review is needed of the systems you employ to monitor case starts and exceptional cases and the allocation of case loads will help to set you on the road to recovery. There is no doubt that the reforms will reduce the number of eligible cases but the first thing to do is to try to make the remaining cases as profitable as possible. We can help you to achieve this!

In addition, there will be large numbers of people unable to pursue their cases due to lack of funding and there are already sizeable sections of the public who are not eligible for legal aid at all. We believe that traditional Legal Aid firms will need to increase their private case-load by offering these services at attractive rates and advertising effectively to get the work in. How can this be done? Clear and concise advertising is needed and the following ways to attract business can be used:

1) Fixed fees – people want transparent fees so they can budget ;

2) Card payments – advertise the fact that you can take credit card payments and if you haven’t got a card machine then get one! There’s no better way to get money on account;

3) Standing Orders – introduce payment plans so clients can split the cost over time.

The Law Factory have been providing a cost effective and efficient cashiering service for over 20 years but on top of this, we use our knowledge of the legal market to help move our clients’ businesses forward in what is a very troubled economy. If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact us!

For full details of the Legal Aid reforms please take a look here

Specific civil and crime info:

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