Last year, we moved swiftly to reassure the profession about how we would respond to complaints relating to this period. This year we looked back through our complaint data and were delighted to see that there hadn’t been any significant deterioration in service from law firms during the period. We publicly welcomed this as a testament to the commitment and professionalism of Scotland’s legal profession.
One thing that did change was the number of complaints we received. Following several years of increasing complaints, we saw the number of incoming complaints fall significantly during both lockdown periods. In recognition of this, and the positive impact of process improvement work in recent years, we set a reduced complaint levy for our 2021-22 year, including a higher discount for those entering the legal profession.
As part of our 2020-24 strategy, we had already been working on themes to be able to respond better to extreme events, move to a more flexible remote technology platform, and improve our flexible working offering. In so many areas the experience of Covid-19 simply accelerated workplans already committed to in this strategy period. However, like many organisations we were keen to capitalise on the rapid learning that happened due to lockdowns.
Following work by our joint Board and executive working party we did add a ‘Respond’ priority to our strategy to emphasise the need to ensure we are responding specifically to the impact of Covid-19 on clients and the sector. We then ensured plans for the remainder of the strategy period placed even greater emphasis and priority on:
- Moving to a fully remote IT model, meaning we can work from anywhere without dependency on an office (our pre Covid-19 approach saw a remote model, but dependent on a central hub)
- A more adaptive and flexible staffing model
- Reviewing our property and facility needs, expecting a reduced need in the future
- Increased delivery of services digitally, for example electronic only client files and video mediation.
Some of this work will already be visible to stakeholders. For example, we’d encourage you to respond to the consultation on new Rules for the SLCC to empower digital working which is underway as this report is published (with a deadline of 1 December for response).
We are excited about, and prepared for, a very different looking future way of working. However, we are also conscious that we are not yet through this pandemic, and all timescales and actions are dependent on national advice or rules on ways of working.