National chambers aims to revolutionise case management IT for barristers

Ward: Blank piece of paper

Innovative national chambers Clerksroom is teaming up with the likes of Microsoft and Lloyds Bank to build an end-to-end case management system for barristers that it hopes to start selling to chambers at the start of next year, Legal Futures can reveal.

It aims to cover chambers’ data and process management through to paying barristers and producing their financial accounts, mapping the entire financial audit trail from start to finish.

Clerksroom is using Microsoft’s Office 365, and working with its bank, Lloyds, accounting software provider Xero, web developer morphsites, and Eloquent Technologies, which will deliver the network infrastructure.

It also aims to make the system ‘AI ready’ using the IBM Bluemix platform and collaborating with Premonition AI, a litigation database that details which lawyers win which cases in front of which judges.

Xero will move Clerksroom and barristers away from manual bookkeeping, integrating chambers’ accounts directly with barristers’ accounts and the Open Bank Project.

The project will allow the system to interface with other banks in the near future to enable auto-transfers of cleared funds.

The system will also be built to cater for HMRC’s ‘Making tax digital’ project in order to submit everything electronically.

Clerksroom aims to have the product built, tested and ready for use from 1 January 2019.

Managing director Stephen Ward said: “We have the opportunity to start with a blank piece of paper, to think differently about what barristers and chambers needs – not simply the work of the clerks.

“It is essential that we have an end-to-end system that accounts for the work we do and – importantly – the financial audit trail, from instruction, to payment, and beyond.

“As all the courts and judiciary are using Microsoft Office 365, it is clear to us that this is the emerging common platform for the legal industry, so why would we not want to take the lead and use this in our new case management system?”

Raymond Hounon, data and AI manager for Microsoft, said: “We are very excited to see the progressive use of Microsoft Office 365 in the cloud and Azure data solutions being used as the common platform across the legal sector – starting with the courts and now for barristers in England and Wales.”

The case management system will also include the further development of Billy Bot, the automated junior clerk created by Clerksroom, as well as My Clerksroom, the chambers’ intranet system that is currently used by 16,000 solicitors in England and Wales.

Barrister Harry Hodgkin, head of chambers and co-founder of Clerksroom, said: “It can often seem that improving and investing in the business of law and the rapid use of technology is a million miles away from the priority of providing excellent and high quality legal solutions and access to justice – but it should go hand-in-hand.

“To enable barristers to provide access to justice for all and to make a sustainable career from that demands perfectly integrated tools, processes and resources.

“The case management project is therefore essential to allow barristers to administer their role and career effectively and for the legal sector in England and Wales to flourish globally through common interactions in the digital space.”

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