In an effort to take control of the “unyielding” law department the city’s acting law director is looking to purchase a new software that will allow the city to keep all its legal cases together.
Case Management Software
Domenick Stampone, acting law director, said the city is now looking to purchase Legal Files, a case management software that will allow the city to keep a database of lawsuits. “This software will allow us to have a centralized databases of where cases are,” said Stamphone, who added that the software will allow for the monitoring of costs, where the case stands, and it will allow outside law firms handling the city’s cases to update and bill the city in real time.
Stampone illustrated the current antiquated systems the department has in place by saying, that, if he were asked about a case by a council member, it would require him to sift through a large number of papers prior to actually finding, and putting together the status of the case. He said, with the new software much of that will be automatic, and all he will have to do is log on to it, press a few buttons, and print out the progress of the case and hand it to the council person.
The software will cost the city $20,000, said Stamphone. City officials did not make the document that was before the council during Friday’s budget hearing public, making the task of verifying that number difficult. “There has been no changes on the expenses, we are shifting money around,” said Stamphone. Last year’s department budget was 1,102,583.00. Besides the disorganized case keeping at the department, there is another problem.
“The law department is now looking at for this year, 2013, approximately 1,000 OPRA requests – it’s up from 800 last year, and 600 the year before,” said Stampone. “If we fail to follow OPRA recommendations or law we could be subject to fees.” The department has a lawyer, who specializes in the handling of Open Public Records Act requests, a law that allows the public to obtain government records within seven days. The law compliant lawyer will, based on Stampone’s statement, ensure the city is not burdened with fines for failing to follow articles of that law. “It could be a very expensive proposition, if we do not follow through,” said Stampone.
With the large number of requests, the city has to find a way to track it, and Stampone said, the case management software will allow for just that. There are 18 employees at the department, most of them part-time, with only three full time employees. In 2014, the director, plans to hire two more individuals, to “bring the department back to its previous staffing levels.”
The new tracking system, said Stampone, will allow the city to keep abreast of new cases before they snowball forcing a special council meeting.