Digital Transformation Project

Covid-19 has significantly impacted the adoption and ongoing use of digital technologies within Law Centres.

As the membership body for Law Centres, we will do our best to report on what is working and support your digital needs at this time and well into the future.

Research conducted prior to COVID-19

INTERVIEWS

  • 11 Law Centres
  • 43 Law Centre staff

REGIONS

  • London & South East  9
  • Midlands  1
  • North East & Yorkshire  1

ROLES

  • Admin  7
  • Caseworker/ Solicitor  13
  • Communications  1
  • Finance  4
  • Manager/Director  14

THEMES WE HAVE IDENTIFIED SO FAR

  • CRM/CMS: Advice Pro is the most popular with approximately 70% of law centres using the tool. However, it suffers from some major issues which we will be addressing, including ease of use, missing or poor functionality (e.g. document management), inconsistent usage, and a mismatch between what is available through automatic reporting and that which is requested by LCN and funders.
  • Specific application: Back-office processes were typically carried out on existing agnostic tools (e.g. Excel). There was a desire to use tools that would support these processes (e.g. HR tools). Law Centres had different software systems reflecting stage of client journey, area of law/project or individual caseworker/solicitor preferences. This often required duplication of effort.
  • Disconnected tools: When Law Centres did have different applications, these were disconnected. Poor IT infrastructure: servers, telephones and computers were often cited as in poor condition. Some Law Centres were required to share phones across staff/volunteers. 
  • Paperless working: mixed responses.
  • Poor space: while this is a non-digital issue, it has been flagged given its significant impact on service delivery and client experience. Work is underway to explore how we can fund improvements in this area. 
  • Support (training/expertise): many cited how useful it would be to have extra resource, particularly regarding IT, HR support when there are issues. 
  • People and culture: Collaborative, mission-driven teams working within uncooperative systems. Requires tenacity, resilience, optimism. Impact of poor leadership can be severely detrimental (deficits, morale, professional development). 
  • Specific ways of working: Each office operated differently, influenced by client needs, funding, staff, geographical area, hardware, software and processes. Many other factors influenced how the Law Centre operated but these tended to be the most significant.
  • Network communications: connecting both within and with the LCN. 

    Law Centres are fighting the good fight – the work you manage to do with the resources available to you is incredibly humbling! 

Research conducted during COVID-19

With the impacts of COVID-19 being sudden and significant, with many Law Centres adopting new ways of working literally overnight and within contexts which are unclear (guidance from HMCTS, LAA, for example) and stressful, the decision was taken to rearrange visits.  

Within LCN, supporting Law Centres became our first priority. We focused our efforts on providing clear, concise and immediate guidance. Given the support/guidance being offered elsewhere in terms of free subscriptions to tools and guidance/support, LCN decided to focus on filtering this overwhelming amount of information and providing Law Centres with only tried and tested tools/guidance. We have then tried to ensure that this matches up to the needs of Law Centres.  

For an evaluation of tools, please visit our new collaborative Trello Board.  

This is a time to understand what is working, what is not and who is using it (to be able to provide guidance).