As always, LAPG conference was packed with essential information, inspiring speeches (particularly Richard Miller from the Law Society and Steve Hynes from LAG) and practitioners sharing hints and tips and generally networking. Lawyers could get their fix of black letter law as well. People who couldn't make it were able to follow on Twitter - we even started trending! Who says people aren't interested in legal aid? Hugh Barrett, Director of Legal Aid Commissioning at the Legal Aid Agency updated us on the government's appeal on the introduction of a residence test (which we covered here)
. It will be heard next week and judgment is expected before Christmas. He also said that news on the 2013 contract (which covers family, housing and debt, and immigration/asylum) will be available in the next month; but it is likely that the contract will be extended. Best tips were from Wendy Hewstone (Managing Partner at Access Law) who said taking credit cards was the best thing they have done recently to improve cash flow and David Gilmore (DG Legal) who did a survey of 38 firms out of hours and found only 2 had any kind of telephone answering service - an easy way of improving client access. Lord Bach updated us on the Labour party's review of legal aid and presented certificates to those present who had completed LAPG's Certificate in Practice Management. The pilot course had funding from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills which enabled LAPG to create 60 hours of management training which is unique in being tailored to legal aid practice (whether in private practice or not for profit). The course covers:
Business and strategic planning
Managing legal aid contracts
Compliance, risk management and data security
And provides access to resources through the Chartered Management Institute People said they used tools from the course straight away - creating dashboards for management information and business planning which helped with Lexcel assessment. Comments from the first cohort included: 'I didn't think I needed training before I did the CPM but looking back, I can see I did', 'Has given me more confidence'
. The time management module by Matthew Moore was particularly popular - and it's a free download
. To express an interest in the course for early 2016 (likely cost £1500), email Carol Storer email@example.com.