The future of practice management

Auckland criminal barrister Emma Priest has helped develop a practice management app specifically for barristers.

It began when she went out as a barrister earlier this year, re-establishing Blackstone Chambers in Wyndham Street together with a number of other colleagues.

“One of my key concerns was what document and practice management system I should use,” Ms Priest says.

“The courts are all encouraging digital filing and with applications like Adobe Acrobat Pro or similar, we can create, and file, digital documents with more ease than filing a paper version.

“Having worked only in large firms, I had been spoilt with a bespoke Document Management System (DMS) at Meredith Connell and Affinity at the Public Defence Service and I knew that this was the only option. I needed:

  • all the functionality of a full auto populating DMS system for efficiency (and sanity);

  • a secure and reliable cloud based system – which had to be NZ-based as buying and maintaining a server was not a practical option;

  • other integrated features including time recording, accounting software and archiving; and

  • it had to be affordable.

“In short, this wasn’t possible. I could get anything I wanted, but it came at a price beyond my set-up budget.”

A bespoke system would cost something like $10-$15,000. While reasonable for a firm “this was well out of my league as a sole practitioner setting up a new practice,” Ms Priest says.

“I’m not one to be defeated, so I contacted the CEO of Actionstep, Ted Jordan. I presented my proposal to him – I would partner with Actionstep, who would build my bespoke system at no cost to me.

“In return, Actionstep would get my time and knowledge for free and would own the IP on the criminal barristers app. This would then be made available to the profession on a standard monthly subscription. A win-win-win for me, Actionstep and the Bar.

“Having spent well over 100 hours creating this system together with an endlessly patient young developer, Robert, the barristers’ app is now available to criminal barristers [more information is available at].

“My aim is to make our lives as barristers more efficient, flexible and easy while ensuring we have the security (and sovereignty) of our data in a future-proofed way.

“I am delighted to offer to the profession something previously reserved for big corporates,” Ms Priest says.