Legal Aid Department Legal Aid Department Annual Report 2011
 


 

Chapter 6

Organisation, Administration and Staffing

The Department has three Divisions, namely the Application and Processing Division, the Litigation Division and the Policy and Administration Division, each headed by a Deputy Director. The organisation chart can be found at the departmental website at http://www.lad.gov.hk/eng/ginfo/oo.html.

Ms Alice Chung Yee-ling
Deputy Director of Legal Aid
(Policy and Administration)

Staffing

At the end of 2011, the Department had 521 staff comprising 73 professional officers, 161 law clerks and 287 supporting staff which included 6 newly recruited Legal Aid Counsel and 16 Law Clerks.

Training and Development

To meet the ever-changing needs of the society and the growing demand for quality service, the Department regularly arranges various types of training courses to equip our staff of all levels for the challenges ahead. The Training Unit, which is headed by a Senior Training Officer, is responsible for the formulating, implementing and reviewing of the Department's training and development policies and plans to meet the operational and development needs of staff.

In-House Training

In 2011, 25 in-house classes were organized, with 890 attendances. Most of the classes were job-related and customer-focused aiming at providing the staff with the relevant work knowledge and skills enabling them to serve the public professionally and proactively. Courses included Briefing on Interpretation Services for Ethnic Minorities, How to Conduct Means Test, How to Reply to Applicants' and Aided Persons' Enquiries, and How to Reply to Complaints. A workshop on Prevention of Workplace Violence which targeted frontline staff was also organized.

External Professional and Management Training

During the year the Department has sponsored 54 professional staff members to attend external professional seminars to keep them abreast of changes and development in the relevant legislation and law. Courses attended covered various professional topics such as Workshop on Family Mediation, Handling Construction Work Injury Cases and Site Safety, Legal Seminar on Data Privacy, Prosecution - Policy and Conduct and Legal Professional Privilege.

To expand and strengthen the professional officers' management capability, 15 professional officers were arranged to attend external management courses including Leadership and Decision Making Skills, How to be a Good Team Leader, The Making of a Successful Manager and Assertive Skills for Managers.

On an on-going basis, staff were nominated to attend courses and seminars on civil service values, national studies, Basic Law, Putonghua, occupational safety and management organized by the Civil Service Training and Development Institute, Civil Service Bureau (CSTDI). In 2011, a total of 151 staff members attended these courses.

Regarding training outside Hong Kong, 3 professional officers attended the course at Peking University on "The Legal System in China" and 5 professional officers attended National Studies Programmes held in Tsinghua University and Zhongshan University.

For career advancement, the Department nominated 4 professional officers to attend executive development programmes, namely Leadership in Action, Advanced Leadership Enhancement Programme and Innovative Managers Programme organized by CSTDI. One professional officer attended an intensive course on Issues in Global Political Economy and Public Sector offered by the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK.

Promoting a Culture of Learning and Self-Development

The Department is committed to cultivating a continuous learning culture. The Learning Resource Centre, which was set up in 2005, provides learning resources on a wide range of subjects such as management, communication, national studies, language, public administration, stress management and personal development. In 2011, 50 books were purchased and added to the Learning Resource Centre for loan by staff.

Furthermore, resources on job-related Putonghua, IT tips, use of Chinese as well as reference materials such as in-house training courses were uploaded onto the departmental portal for staff's easy reference.

Staff can also access to CLC Plus, the e-learning portal for all civil servants which contains a vase variety and quantity of self-learning resources, toolkits and job aids on management, language, communication, information technology for on-line access. As at the end of 2011, a total of 164 staff members have registered as members.

Information Systems

The Department places great importance to update its IT infrastructure and office automation facilities to facilitate prompt and efficient delivery of legal aid services to the public.

In 2011, the Department upgraded the computing operating system, database software, backend system software and hardware of the Case Management and Case Accounting System which supports over 500 staff users in handling day-to-day legal aid business processes such as processing applications and handling legal aid payments.

The Legal Aid Electronic Services Portal (LAESP) which was launched in 2008 provides an online gateway through which members of the public and panel lawyers can gain access to information and transact certain legal aid business with the Department online to facilitate communications.

Members of the public can access the LAESP to download and submit legal aid pre-application information forms to the Department as a first step towards making an application for legal aid. The means test calculator which gives members of the public a preliminary idea of their financial eligibility for legal aid had 4 295 hits in 2011.

In July 2011, a mobile version of the Means Test Calculator was developed enabling the public to have access to the calculator anytime and anywhere via mobile phone.

For panel lawyers, they could download and submit Legal Aid Panel (LAP) electronic forms and electronic case management reports through LAESP.

Ms Juliana Chan Oi-yung
Assistant Director of Legal Aid
(Policy & Development)

Staff Relations and Communication

The Department maintains effective communication with staff through regular meetings with various staff representative bodies such as the Departmental Consultative Committees (DCC), the Law Clerks Association and the Legal Aid Counsel Association. As a result of discussion at these meetings, improvements have been made in areas such as office accommodation, streamlining of work procedures and provision of office equipment.

The Director of Legal Aid visited each section regularly throughout the year with a view to exchanging ideas with staff of all levels including professionals and received their views on work arrangements and procedures for further improvement. Divisions/Sections continued to implement their respective internal communication strategies in consultation with staff. Informal meetings were also held between the Deputy Director of Legal Aid (Policy and Administration) and Senior Law Clerks I and II and general grades staff regularly to canvass their views on work and to explore areas for improvement. The Department continued to publish staff newsletter three times a year in order to keep staff abreast of development in the Department and to promote their sense of belonging.

Staff Welfare

The Department values the general well-being of its staff. The objective of the Staff Club, which was formed in 1988, is to promote staff welfare by organising a wide range of activities to bring about opportunities where staff can meet and interact whilst engaging in relaxing and enriching activities.

To provide staff with opportunities to maintain their physical fitness, Tai-Chi and Yoga classes were arranged, together with an excursion to the Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden located in Tai Po. Various interest classes such as Chinese dessert making and bakery classes were also organised.




Staff welfare and recreational activities including the Annual Dinner and mini bazaars to celebrate festivals like Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival were held.

During the year, the Volunteer Service Group (VSG), formed in 2002 to encourage staff participation in volunteer services helped with fund raising activities such as Rice Selling Campaign organised by Oxfam Hong Kong, MSF Day Fund Raising Campaign organised by Medecins Sans Frontieres and World Sight Day organised by ORBIS Hong Kong. Our staff also participated in the Chinese New Year Gift Transfer Program organised by St James' Settlement (People's Food Bank).

Environmental Initiatives

The Department is committed to ensuring its operations and activities are conducted in an environmentally responsible manner. The Department makes efforts to minimise waste, conserve energy, promote "reuse" and "recycle" of resources and to enhance staff awareness and participation in protecting the environment.

The Department undertakes regular reviews to ensure that the use of its resources is in an efficient and green manner. Details of the Department's environmental initiatives in 2011 can be found in the Department's Environmental Report at the departmental website http://www.lad.gov.hk/documents/ppr/publication/envreport_11.pdf.

Internal Audit

The Internal Audit Section (IAS) is an independent team established to assist management to ensure that adequate control procedures and systems are in place to safeguard the Department's assets. It also carries out reviews of the various activities of the Department in order to ensure an economical, efficient and effective use of the Department's financial, human and other resources.

During the year, the Internal Audit Section reviewed the paper consumption of the Department, the effectiveness of the Phone Payment Service (PPS) and the Department's compliance to the new standard of the new IT security policy by the Government Chief Information Officer. It also carried out an audit on the Integrated Registration Information System provided by the Land Registry for conducting land searches in legal aid cases, the accuracy of computer data input by staff and periodical checks on compiling means investigation reports, petty cash and imprest etc.

Support Service to the Legal Aid Services Council

Legal Aid Services Council (LASC) is a statutory body set up under the Legal Aid Services Council Ordinance, Cap. 489 to oversee the provision of legal aid services. The LASC is responsible for advising the Chief Executive on matters of policy relating to legal aid. The LASC is chaired by a non-official who is not a barrister or solicitor and there are a total of 10 members comprising the Director of Legal Aid, legal representatives of the two legal professional bodies and lay members chosen from other fields. Representatives of the Department attend meetings of the Council and its Interest Groups and participate in its activities in promoting public awareness and understanding of the role of the Council and its relationship with the Department.

In the year, the Department provided the Council with regular progress reports and information papers on different aspects of legal aid services, such as processing of legal aid applications for judicial review, application of interim contribution paid by aided persons in Labour Tribunal appeal cases under the newly expanded SLAS.

In October 2011, Assistant Director of Legal Aid/Policy & Development Ms Juliana O.Y. Chan gave a briefing to members of the new Interest Groups of LASC on the work of the Department.

The Ombudsman Award 2011

Mr Eric Tang
Senior Law Clerk I,
Application and Processing Division


Mr Eric Tang joined the Department as a law clerk in 1981 and was promoted to the rank of Senior Law Clerk I in 2006. He joined the Information and Application Services Unit of the Application and Processing Division in 2009. As its customer service officer, Mr Tang frequently received enquiries, complaints and requests for assistance made by phone or in person from legal aid applicants, aided persons and members of the public. Mr Tang treated them with respect, empathy and sensitivity and discharged these duties with tact and professionalism. Mr Tang is also proactive in making constructive customer service proposals.

In recognition and appreciation of Mr Tang's performance in handling complaints and delivering quality customer service, he was awarded the Ombudsman Award 2011.

Secretary for Civil Service's Commendation Award 2011

Mr Christopher Chan
Senior Clerical Officer,
Accounts & Supplies Section


Mr Christopher Chan is a very senior and experienced officer who joined the Government in 1979 and has been in service with the Department since 1997 as a "first generation" Senior Clerical Officer of the Accounts and Supplies Section. He possessed extensive knowledge and experience in the operation of the Department's Case Management & Case Accounting System and was very effective in identifying problems and offered practical solutions. His exemplary performance earned him great respect from his colleagues and the management.

Mr Chan was awarded the Secretary for Civil Service's Commendation Award in recognition of his outstanding performance since he joined the Department.
 



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