2013 Legal Aid Department Annual Report
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Vision, Mission & Values
Departmental Strategic Plan
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Case of Public Interest or Concern
Customer Services
Publicity Programmes
Organisation, Administration and Staffing
  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)


At the end of 2013, the Department had 538 staff comprising 74 professional officers, 169 law clerks and 295 supporting staff which included 3 newly recruited Legal Aid Counsel and 13 Law Clerks.


Training and Development

The Department is committed to developing and maintaining a highly-motivated and well-trained workforce to provide quality professional services to our customers. Every year the Department arranges various general and professional training courses for our staff of all levels to equip them with the latest knowledge and skills needed to face the challenges ahead. The Training Unit, which is headed by a Senior Training Officer, is responsible for formulating, implementing and reviewing the Department's training and development policies and plans to meet the operational and development needs of staff.

Job-Related Professional Training

In 2013, the Department organized a number of job-related classes aiming at providing staff with the relevant work knowledge and skills to serve the public professionally. To keep our professional officers abreast of the changes and development in the relevant legislation and law, in-house courses included Update on Matrimonial and Employees' Compensation practice, How to Assess Bills of Costs, Procedures on Assessment of Costs and Introduction to the Anti-discrimination Laws were organised and attended by a total of 55 professional officers.

In addition, during the year the Department also sponsored 50 professional officers to attend external seminars covering various topics such as Civil Law, Arbitration in Ancillary Relief, Recent Changes to the Trust Law in Hong Kong, Commercial Crime – Dealing with Law Enforcement, Custody Issues and the Related Practice and Procedures, Road Traffic Offences, Update on Family Law, Handling Medical Negligence Cases, The New Competition Ordinance, Civil Justice Reform and Civil Procedure Updates, Legal Workshop on Data Protection, Victims of Sex Crimes; and Ex-Employees and Intellectual Property Rights – IP Issue in an Employment Context. Besides, 2 professional officers attended the Mainland Legal Studies Course held at the Peking University on the Mainland.


Management Courses

To strengthen staff's management capability, the Department organized in-house management courses such as Workshop on Performance Appraisal Writing and Seminar on Communication and Counselling Skills for Managerial Effectiveness. 27 professional officers were arranged to attend management courses organized by the Civil Service Training and Development Institute, Civil Service Bureau (CSTDI, CSB) and external institutes. Courses included Hong Kong Statistics for Business, How to be a Good Team Leader, Team Leadership, Ethical Leadership, Improving Public Services through Commissioning and Contestability, People Management in the Public Sector, Persuasion and Influencing Skills, The Art and Science of Negotiation, Leading Innovation and Change, Leading Strategic Change; and Building Resilience.

3 professional officers were nominated to attend executive development programmes organized by CSTDI, CSB, namely Advanced Leadership Enhancement Programme, Leadership in Action and Innovative Managers Programme.

During the year, staff also attended Putonghua courses to enhance their spoken Putonghua level for receiving applicants speaking Putonghua and delegates from the Mainland. A total of 25 professional officers attended the courses.


Training on Customer Service

The Department places great importance on nurturing a custom-focused culture. To enhance staff's skills in delivering quality service to the public, the Department, on an on-going basis, organizes in-house training courses and sponsors staff of different levels to attend customer service courses held by CSTDI, CSB and external institutes. In 2013, 51 staff members, including general grade staff attended the following courses:

• Communicating with Tact for Dealing with Customers
• Complaint Management
• Customer Service Skills on the Telephone
• Handling Customer Complaints
• Preventing and Handling Sexual Harassment Complaints
• Quality Customer Service
• Replies to Enquiries and Complaints
• Replying to Customer Complaints
• Sign Language for Frontline Staff

To promote staff well-being, an in-house workshop on Relieving Work Pressure with Acupressure Therapy was organized. A total of 140 staff members attended the workshop.


Training on General Subjects

Every year the Department will nominate staff to attend courses and seminars on general subjects such as civil service values, official writing, stress management, Basic Law, Putonghua, occupational safety and health, equal opportunities, information technology; and records management organized by the CSTDI, CSB, other departments and external institutes. In 2013, 155 staff members attended these courses.

Regarding National Studies training, 6 professional officers attended programmes held at Chinese Academy of Governance, Peking University, Jinan University, Nanking University and Zhejiang University.

Promoting Self-Learning and Development: In-house Learning Resource Centre

To cultivate the culture of continuous self-learning, the Department's Learning Resource Centre maintains a wide range of books and learning resources covering various subjects such as management, communication, language, national studies, personal development, positive thinking, stress management; and healthy lifestyle for loan by staff. In 2013, the Department further expanded the coverage of books on staff well-being by adding 70 new books to the Learning Resource Centre to promote work-life balance.

To facilitate easy access to self-learning materials by staff, resources on IT tips, use of Chinese as well as reference materials of in-house training courses were uploaded onto the departmental portal. Staff can also have direct access to CLC Plus, the e-learning portal for all civil servants, which contains a great variety of self-learning resources, toolkits and job aids on management, language, communication; and information technology. As at end of 2013, 263 staff members have registered as CLC Plus 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.

The Department's Case Management and Case Accounting System (CM&CAS) supports over 500 staff users in handling day-to-day legal aid business processes such as processing applications and handling legal aid payments. In 2013, the CM&CAS was further enhanced to facilitate costing staff to submit declaration of conflict of interest electronically.

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.

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 and its mobile version which provide potential applicants a preliminary assessment of their financial eligibility for legal aid had 3 006 and 3 259 hits in 2013 respectively.

To enhanced e-communication with panel lawyers, the Department has since March 2013 replaced the requirement of digital certificate with user ID and individual passwords for panel lawyers to submit certain case reports and data update forms to our Portal. We had also conducted a review on the user interface of the system to enhance user friendliness. The enhancement is targeted to be implemented in 2014.

Taking into account technological development, the Department had upgraded the operating system, hardware and software of the Departmental Portal and the Electronic Mail System. The upgrade for the LAESP hosting platform, Office Automation facilities and the Virtual Private Network had commenced and is expected to complete in 2014.

  Ms Juliana Chan Oi-yung
Assistant Director of Legal Aid
(Policy and 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, the Law Clerks Association and the Legal Aid Counsel Association. As a result of discussion at these meetings, improvements were made in areas such as office accommodation, streamline of working procedures, indoor air quality and human resources planning.

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 review and 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 collect their views on work and to explore areas for improvement. The Department continued to publish staff newsletter three times a year to keep staff abreast of development in the Department, to promote their sense of belonging and to enhance communication.


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 and to bring about opportunities where staff can meet and interact whilst engaging in relaxing and enriching activities.

To provide staff with opportunities to keep a healthy balance between work and relaxation, Yoga classes together with an excursion to the Hong Kong Geopark in Sai Kung were organized. Recreational activities including the Annual Dinner and mini bazaars to celebrate Chinese New Year, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival were also held. Interest classes held such as dessert making and bakery classes were very popular among staff.

During the year, the Volunteer Service Group which was formed in 2002 to encourage staff participation in volunteer services, participated in various fund raising activities such as the Rice Selling Campaign organised by Oxfam Hong Kong, MSF Day Fund Raising Campaign organised by Medecins Sans Frontieres, World Sight Day organised by ORBIS Hong Kong and the Chinese New Year Gift Transfer Program organised by St James' Settlement (People's Food Bank). 50 scarves knitted by colleagues were also donated to St James' Settlement. It was worth mentioning that the Department attained the 2nd Top Fund-raiser Award in the Civil Service Category of Dress Casual Day organized by The Community Chest.

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 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 2013 can be found in the Department's Environmental Report at the departmental website http://www.lad.gov.hk/eng/ppr/publication/enr.html.


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, IAS reviewed the administration of the criminal legal aid fees system and the utilization of office equipment. It also carried out audits on the use of the Integrated Registration Information System provided by the Land Registry for conducting land searches in legal aid cases and performed periodical checks on means investigation reports, petty cash, 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 professional lawyer. There are a total of 10 members comprising the Director of Legal Aid, 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.

During the year, the Department provided the Council with regular progress reports and information papers on different aspects of legal aid services, such as the Annual Review of Financial Eligibility Limits of Legal Aid Applicants, the Biennial Review of Criminal Legal Aid Fees and the proposed declaration system for assignment of nominated lawyers in legally aided cases.

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