The Law Society’s Lexcel quality standard helps law practices and is a hugely powerful tool when fully embraced by a firm. Lexcel can help to navigate a rapidly changing world whilst meeting the constantly evolving needs of clients and external parties such as regulatory bodies.
What is Lexcel?
Lexcel has evolved considerably since its inception in 1998 and is now in its 6th iteration covering seven key areas, from structure and strategy to client care and regulatory compliance.
Although it can be implemented effectively alongside other quality standards such as ISO 9001, and ISO 27001. It has been specially developed to provide a comprehensive quality standard for law practices, which is why it covers regulations such as AML and GDPR.
Why law practices need Lexcel?
It is fair to say in every industry even the legal profession, there will be a ‘few rotten apples’ whose actions undermine the credibility of the entire industry. In recent years changes introduced by the Law Society and SRA, along with legislative changes introduced by the UK government have taken monumental steps to increase transparency and accountability within the profession. The most obvious change which clients will have seen relate to the transparency around fees and providing the client with a ‘client care letter’ (CCL) in advance of the engagement.
However, as much as the world has changed these changes are being driven by external forces. For them to be truly effective, they need to become part of the DNA of every law practice and be a core part of the industry-wide standards of doing business.
This is why law firms need Lexcel; when it is fully embraced by all parts of the practice, it becomes more than just a quality mark or ‘box-ticking' exercise. Adoption of the standard provides a versatile platform for firms to ensure that the right plans, policies, and procedures in place to grow, whilst simultaneously protecting individuals, the firm, and its clients. Having the standard creates an environment of ‘risk ownership’ and empowerment for both fee and non-fee earners to ensure that the correct protocols are followed consistently and there is not a way or advantage in circumventing procedures or ‘play the system’.
The business case for adopting Lexcel
Over and above the fact that as a quality mark, Lexcel helps firms to ensure the best practices are established and followed internally. These best practices range from having an easy-to-follow strategic plan to having regular client file reviews which help to ensure that the matter has been handled correctly. There are also other practical examples of why every law firm should be Lexcel accredited and how having it has helped practices:
· Having effective risk management leading to fewer claims, complaints, or regulatory fines
· Improved client service resulting in increased client retention
· Consistent service delivery by all fee-earners and/or practice groups enabling improved work pipeline and WIP management more effectively and improved methods quoting for new business
· Increased success in tenders and/or being included on client panels, resulting in more business and improved profitability
· Lower or more favorable professional indemnity insurance premiums or favorable treatment from insurers
How to start on the road to Lexcel
Gaining Lexcel accreditation is not an overnight process, the Law Society and the appointed bodies who perform the actual audits to achieve accreditation require evidence that the firm has fully adopted the standard, which usually means having at least six months’ worth of evidence.
To get started on the road to Lexcel accreditation, we work with our clients by initially performing a ‘gap analysis’ between plans, policies, and procedures the firm has currently and what is needed under the standard, this enables us to prioritise which areas of the practice are deficient against the standard and those parts of the practice where more remedial work required to bring align it with the standard.
If you have any questions relating to Lexcel or any ISO Standard, or would like to arrange for one of our experienced consultants to contact you for a no obligation chat please do not hesitate to get in touch.