Several months after the Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown, the unprecedented operational disruption this has brought to UK legal practitioners continues. Although restrictions have now eased, many are still avoiding unnecessary travel or unrestricted personal contact and are working from home wherever possible.
The changes this situation have brought about are so far reaching that some firms are now speculating whether they will ever return to working from a centralised office. Amongst other considerations, this raises several compliance and data security issues, specifically in regard to the transport and storage of hard copy communications and legal documents.
As a legal document specialist, Yvonne Archer, Operations Director of Oyez Document Production, has been providing guidance and support to legal firms for more than 30 years. In 2011, when The Supreme Court decided to introduce electronic files, it was Yvonne they turned to for advice. She says “We had always produced the core volumes and authorities in printed form. The Court wanted to combine these into one electronic file to make it easier for judges to use. Working together, we developed a prototype that allowed judges to put physical notes on digital pages and to move easily from one document to another. Once everyone was satisfied with the functionality of the prototype, it was adopted as the official standard and included in the practice directions that are still in use today.”
Meeting digital court requirements
As a result of the pandemic, Yvonne has noticed a distinct change in the requirement for court bundles. Previous to 2020, requests were evenly split between paper and digital files. Over the past few months, all enquiries are for digital format. This is a reflection of the amended demands of The Supreme Court, the Crown Courts and any courts below them.
Even those who have a printed copy lodged at the court still need digital files for the additional people who require access to the documents. This is putting extra pressure on lawyers and barristers who no longer have access to previous levels of administrative support. Although case management software can allow users to create PDF documents and assemble them into court bundles, the person using the software often doesn’t have the time, or specific experience, required to compile bundles that meet stringent court requirements.
Many firms regularly depend on Oyez Document Production to provide their court bundles. Whether you are the Appellant or the Respondent, we can assist at every stage of the proceedings, providing bundles that are guaranteed to meet the required standards in both paper and digital format. We can also file documents directly with the relevant court.
Print room services
Larger firms have normally had the support of print room staff who ensured a wide variety of documents were prepared, copied, printed and / or scanned and delivered as requested. Closed offices, or those with limited access, can no longer offer this service. Consequently, there has been a significant increase in the number of firms looking to outsource print room services to a specialist who understands the complexities of legal documents and who can act as a ready resource whenever required.
Document Production has extensive experience in providing print room services. Any documents or files can be delivered directly to us, rather than the office, and returned in digital and /or hard copy format. Although digital is the preferred format at the moment, we can also copy files that still need further revisions or additions and deliver the paper copies directly.
We offer same day turnaround in Greater London and next day (by noon) delivery for all other UK locations.
Electronic document storage
The efficiency barriers that physical document storage present have also been highlighted in the last few months. With limited access to offices, retrieving paper documents quickly has become problematic and it has become more apparent that using expensive office space for the storage of historic documents is a poor return on investment.
Document Production can offer further support to firms in this position. We can efficiently scan documents and prepare digital versions, ready to be loaded onto your firm’s servers. This allows all authorised users to easily access the documents they need, when they need them. It’s a much safer and more effective option for the management of hard copy document archives.
The use of digital technology, triggered by the challenges of 2020, is changing the way every UK law firm, chambers and court produces documents. What began as a business continuity necessity has delivered the unexpected advantages of greater efficiency, productivity, collaboration, cost savings and security. The decreasing requirement for paper has also meant environmental footprints have reduced. The progression from paper to digital has delivered many benefits, and this trend looks set to continue as we face an uncertain business landscape.
Talk to us to find out how we can help
If you think your firm could benefit from our services, please contact us for an informal conversation and if required, a no-obligation quote. We are always happy to use our years of experience to help and advise.