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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

04 NOV 2013

PracticePlus: Q and A with Will Ricketts, Jordan Publishing CEO

Family Law - PracticePlus

1.What exactly is PracticePlus?

PracticePlus is a bank of resources and tools for the busy family lawyer who not only wants to know what to do and how to do it but also be enabled to do it quickly and efficiently.

It is made up of Practice Notes which offer clear and comprehensive guidance through each court application, ranging from the everyday such as financial order applications to the less common such as a declaration of marital status. These link to all the resources and trusted commentary you could need, including: Family Law Reports, Family Court Practice, Hershman and McFarlane: Children Law and Practice and Duckworth's Matrimonial Property and Finance. They also link to legislation and the relevant court forms, including AutoDocs which I'll come onto in a moment.

Each Practice Note also features an interactive Flow Chart which provides a clear overview of the procedure and can be printed out onto an A4 page as a quick aide memoire. The Flow Chart links to the relevant part of the Practice Note and court forms.

In addition, PracticePlus includes AutoDocs - automated versions of all the relevant court forms. These are intelligent documents which remember information you have already put in, so you save time and don't answer the same questions repeatedly. The Practice Notes and Flow Charts link directly to them so you can open and complete the document you need straight away.

PracticePlus is divided into three practice areas:

 

  • Divorce/Dissolution
  • Financial Provision
  • Children

 

Phase 2 which is coming in the first half of next year will broaden the subject range further to take in topics such as domestic violence, appeals and enforcement.

2. How does it work?

PracticePlus sits within Family Law Online so you just log on to the service in the normal way. You can link through to the various elements of the service directly from the reference works you are familiar with, such as the Red Book. We have tried to make the service as accessible as possible, so there are links directly from the text, from the tables of contents, and from the resources and forms pages. You can subscribe to the complete service or pick the modules/practice areas most relevant to your needs. You don't need to download software to your computer - all you need is access to the internet and a user name and password.

3. Who do you envisage will use PracticePlus and what benefits can they expect to see?

The main users of PracticePlus will be solicitors and legal executives or paralegals, especially those who are looking to work more efficiently and cost effectively. We envisage that it will also be beneficial for direct access barristers who will need to do more of the work that in the past their instructing solicitor would have done.

As well as offering the experienced practitioner a faster, more efficient and consistently accurate way of working, PracticePlus will benefit more junior practitioners by giving them the guidance they need to work with less supervision. More experienced lawyers will find it useful as a quick reference guide and an aide memoire for those applications they may not come across so frequently.

Ultimately the product is a time saver, helping you to find the answer you need quickly, providing you with all the resources you need in one accessible place and then streamlining the process you go through  day to day.  This will free you up to provide valuable advice and support to your clients in a much more cost effective way.

4. How are you ensuring that PracticePlus will deliver what your customers need?

We have very much taken the approach of making PracticePlus ‘by lawyers, for lawyers'. Our team of in-house PSLs have been instrumental in shaping it, and our development partners have extensive experience in producing legal workflow solutions.  As well as thoroughly testing internally, we sent it out to external testers who gave us some very valuable feedback which we have incorporated. Overall, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive - in fact one of our testers even used an early version to help them with a real case.

Looking ahead, we will continue to gather feedback, comments and suggestions from our users as they put PracticePlus through its paces in practice. Our in-house PSLs will be keeping the product up to date so our customers can be confident in its accuracy and currency.

5. What technical support will you provide for customers of PracticePlus?

As with our other online products, we are just an email or phone call away. You can contact our technical helpdesk during office hours, or speak to your account manager via phone or email. We supply full details when you sign up to the service. We also provide comprehensive online support on our website via Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and training videos.

6. What guarantee will you give to customers regarding data security?

We follow industry best practices. The automated forms are stored in a secure online ‘vault' which uses high-grade, industry standard encryption to ensure that the data remains safe from prying eyes. Our servers operate in secure data centres, are backed up regularly and we have full Disaster Recovery procedures in place to keep the service running reliably.

7. PracticePlus is something of a departure for Jordan Publishing. How has the new service been developed?

We wanted to offer our customers more - a faster more efficient way of finding information and carrying out the tasks they need to do every day.

The idea came from our in-house family law team who understand how lawyers work and what they, as former practitioners, would want from us. The product brings together all our content, making it more accessible - essentially your research has been done for you.  The project has been a collaborative one, involving a huge amount of work by the Jordan Publishing and Technical teams working with our technical partners  to create something tailored and unique.

8. What sets PracticePlus apart from other product offerings in this category?

There is nothing quite like PracticePlus on the market. Nothing else offers the dynamic combination of flowcharts, detailed guides to each procedure with links to authoritative authored commentary and a full range of automated documents.  You can't get links to the Red Book, the Family Law Reports or the Family Law Precedents Service from any of our competitors. And, not only do the PracticePlus Practice Notes link to our existing content, of themselves they provide a wealth of useful guidance for family lawyers.

PracticePlus is intuitive to use with a consistent, easily navigable structure and comprehensive search function.

In particular, the form-filling process has been designed to be easy and smooth. The system will take you through the forms step by step, allowing you to save information as you go, and the various forms work together to minimise the need for re-keying information. We feel that this seamless operation sets PracticePlus apart from other systems, especially from those which rely on flat PDFs. For example, you only need to set up information about yourself and your practice once, and it is reused. Information can be reused and shared between multiple forms, meaning that you do not need to retype details and you can create a document in both PDF or Word formats and then save it to your own system.  All of the relevant court forms are automated, including a self-calculating Form E which doesn't rely on complicated excel spreadsheets, but just a straightforward series of questions as with all the other automated documents.

We believe PracticePlus offers great value for money and that it offers real and practical benefits to the practitioner which they will be able to see straight away.

9. How is PracticePlus pricing structured?

In common with our other online services, PracticePlus is available for purchase in customised modules. Customers can select exactly the content they need, for the precise number of people within their firm who need to use it.  The PracticePlus modules can be purchased together or separately, and packaged with the key linked online products for a bespoke service and price, according to the customer's specific requirements.

10. What do you expect PracticePlus to deliver for your business?

PracticePlus is an embodiment of how we see ourselves as an innovative, forward-thinking company providing the best quality legal information combined with intelligent technology in a customer-focused way.

We want customers to get the most out of everything we offer - especially our authoritative publications. We hope that PracticePlus will help to showcase the benefits of the range and depth of Family Law content we provide, making it more accessible to existing subscribers and attracting new customers who may not be familiar with all our products.

11. Aside from PracticePlus, how are you dealing with strong competition in the family law space more generally?

We recognise that this is a difficult time for family lawyers and we have kept our pricing as low as possible, while maintaining the breadth and quality of our specialist coverage of all areas of family law. We also listen to what our customers want and are motivated by helping them meet the demands of their business.

12. Apart from the competition, what's your biggest challenge?

In short, adapting our information provision to the changing ways in which family law is practised in today's market. In a world of Google and iPads, this means evolving our products to take advantage of new technology and the new ways people use and access information. We are also looking at new types of information, so the lawyers who rely on us can meet the challenges they face, of cost pressures and the changing practice of law.

13. Will there be further developments like PracticePlus?

We plan to extend our coverage in Family Law to take in topics such as domestic violence, appeals and enforcement. We have already launched automated forms for some key Employment issues, and will continue to expand in this area.

14. What does the future hold for Jordan Publishing?

Developing our services in order to continue Jordan Publishing's proud tradition of offering the best possible support available for family lawyers.

15. When can I trial PracticePlus?

Now! There is already considerable interest, and we are set up to respond quickly to everyone who makes contact with us.  Just contact our Account Management team on 0117 918 1555 or email the team direct at practiceplus@familylaw.co.uk.

16. And finally, how can people find out more about PracticePlus?

There is information on our website at http://www.familylaw.co.uk/practiceplus, which includes details of the product, a quick start guide and video. Or talk to one of our Account Managers (call 0117 918 1555 or email practiceplus@familylaw.co.uk) who are always happy to help.

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