The new tendering process for LSC contracts for mediation is now underway, with the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) stage closing on the 18th June, and outcomes being notified at the end of July. The newly awarded contracts are likely to commence in December 2012 and March 2013. So what helps make the decision of whether to tender for a new contract?
Many see the LSC contract for mediation as a non-viable option, with fixed fees for assessments and mediations, reduced income for larger number of mediation sessions, along with the extra administration requirements. However, we’ve heard many mediators commenting on changes over the past couple of months which show that a shift in mediation referrals.
1) A significant reduction in the number of solicitor referrals over the past 3-4 months.
2) When solicitor’s contact regarding mediation, they often ask if Legal Aid is available.
As a result a number of services have been speaking to us regarding the technical issues of managing an LSC mediation contract, and the administrative complexities. The LSC requires a number of administrative processes to be in place before a contract is awarded, included documentation of office processes and procedures. This doesn’t need to include a dedicated case management system, however it can greatly help case tracking, form completion and the general administration of the contract. The draft LSC Standard Terms 2013 (published May 2012 and available at http://www.legalservices.gov.uk/civil/2013_civil_contract.asp) specifies:
‘You must have an IT system which enables you to perform your obligations under this Contract. Your IT system must include the following as a minimum with the following features as a minimum’:
- a system to identify all your Contract work files
- a system to enable you to identify Client conflicts
- a system for identifying relevant Matters and cases when acting for a Client in a number of Matters and/or cases
- a system for accessing a list of all Matters and cases that are open and closed
- a system which identifies key dates in respect of any Matter and/or case
- a time recording system for all Matters and cases
- a system for identifying an up to date record of the value of your work in progress on all Matters and cases
- access to our website www.legalservices.gov.uk
- access to your LSC Online Account
- at least one operational email address
So how can we help? We support family mediation services who provide private and legal aid clients. Our case management software is designed to simplify tracking cases, and our integrated forms assist with the LSC contract requirements.
Ths software links the mediation case with the forms and templates. LSC forms such as the FM1, App7, Consolidated work and Work start are integrated. These bring through the client information onto the forms to save time. Calculating the monthly returns can take a couple of days, manipulating the client information into the format required. The software makes this straight forward with the click of a button. In generating the LSC forms, we determine the cases which assessments or mediations are eligible for legal aid. Therefore simplifying the process of calculating the value of LSC work undertaken.
Integrated Means7 Calculator
In addition to the forms, a Means7 calculator is built into the software, helping to determine whether a client is eligible for legal aid. All the calculations are stored on a client by client basis, so that if some of the information is not available on the first visit, it can be completed and printed at a later date without having to start again.
All documentation and activities linked to the cases are stored in one place, so that you can generate case activity and reports as needed to fulfil the necessary reporting and statistics.
If the LSC contract is something that you’ve contemplated but thought it too complicated, why not talk to us and see how the right IT system can make it easier.