"When clients and I have had conversations recently, several have stated they weren't sure if digital working would save money for their firms, especially in the short term. I know this is key for beleaguered criminal defence firms and I love a challenge so I looked at some of the most commonly held beliefs about the costs of digital working. I concluded that we could lay two of the biggest concerns to rest quite easily."
It is true that a magistrate's court guilty plea doesn't generate much paperwork, so printing the IDPC and stuffing it in a recycled foolscap file doesn't cost much. However it all starts to look different when you factor in a reasonable turnover of magistrates and crown court cases across more than one fee earner. Depending on your printer and its print per page costs, you will save at least £775 per year, per fee earner in the printing costs of served evidence and up to £2,479 per year per fee earner on our tests. And that doesn't include the money saved by not printing off drafts and final copies of documents you create yourselves plus the postage saved by emailing it or making it available through a secure client portal...
It depends on how you do things. As a capital investment up front, I agree it is a big ask for most businesses. As a software development firm, we do have to invest in kit very regularly so it's a subject we know a lot about and the short answer is this: if you take advantage of the many leasing deals, the monthly cost is manageable, even on very tight turnover margins.
Here is just a simple example:
Let us assume you have 5 fee earners and they need kitting out with laptops plus a decent PDF editor. In fact assume that they need to have the same version in use with the CPS, Adobe Acrobat XI Win Professional. Here are some basic prices:
A Dell Vostro Laptop: £394 including Vat per fee earner
Adobe Acrobat XI Win Professional: £274.99 per user.
So total cost per fee earner is £668.99
For 5 fee earners it is £3,344.95
If you lease Adobe Acrobat and spread the cost of the laptops, you can get this cost down to under £200 per month.
I do believe there are financial and practical benefits from digital working. I also believe we can help you make digital work for you irrespective of the MoJ's agenda, so that you and your firms get the benefit.