File reviews will reveal the extent to which fee earners comply with key requirements such as anti-money laundering checks, client and matter risk assessments, conflict checks, scoping the retainer, the provision of costs and client care information to clients.
The SRA Handbook has many requirements which mean that file reviews should form an essential part of any practical compliance regime:
- have “a system for supervising clients’ matters, to include the regular checking of work by suitably competent and experienced people” (O(7.8))
- monitor achievement of the outcomes in order to improve standards and identify non-achievement of the outcomes (IB(10.1))
- identify any serious issues as a result of the monitoring referred to in IB(10.1) and produce a plan for remedying issues that have been identified (IB (10.5))
- assist in reassuring the COLP and COFA that they have taken all reasonable steps to ensure compliance, record failures to comply and report material failures to the SRA (Rule 8.5(c) SRA Authorisation Rules)
- be able to record and report to the SRA failures/breaches (Rule 8.5(c)(ii) SRA Authorisation Rules)
Finding the time and making sure the expertise is on hand to undertake thorough and regular file reviews is difficult. More and more firms are now outsourcing this essential work.
All of our compliance experts have not only worked as solicitors in private practice, but have a combined experience of working for the SRA for over 60 years and have provided hands-on compliance assistance to over 2,500 firms, having undertaken file reviews as an essential part of assessing those firms’ compliance arrangements.
We currently undertake file reviews for a variety of firms, from sole practitioners and high street firms through to city firms and large multinationals. We have also helped a number of firms make their own internal file review systems more effective.
We offer a range of file review services to suit your individual requirements and assist you with a proactive approach to risk management. File reviews can be undertaken on-site or off-site. The primary objective is to ensure regulatory compliance. We not only look at whether the outcomes, rules, regulations and legislative requirements have been met, but also whether any positive indicative behaviours that you have adopted as internal policy have been followed. We also look at compliance with Lexcel, CQS, WIQS or SQM or carry out bespoke file reviews to monitor compliance with specific service level agreements and internal protocols.
Our regular file review service will help your COLP and COFA detect trends and systemic issues such as recurring non-material breaches and create an audit trail to demonstrate that you are managing compliance.
There are many additional benefits to outsourcing your file reviews to our team of experts:
Save time and money – By outsourcing the file review process to our team of experts, fee earners’ valuable time is freed up to allow them to concentrate on what they do best – fee earning!
Consistency and objectivity – Our experts review files not only thoroughly, but consistently and objectively. Having gained many years’ experience at the SRA, each of our compliance experts has additional areas of expertise. We work together to identify and discuss potential issues, develop practical solutions and achieve the maximum benefit for our clients.
Improving efficiency – During the file review process, we often find instances where duplication or wasted steps could be eliminated to improve efficiency. Whenever we find issues that indicate room for improvement, we work to identify the extent of this – whether it was a one-off event, limited to a particular fee earner or department or indeed firm-wide. We then provide you with practical solutions for the future.
Reducing your PII premium – Our clients can achieve a reduction in their PII premium if they provide evidence to their PI insurer of our successive file review reports and demonstrate a positive approach to compliance and risk management.
Maintaining your risk register and compliance plan – File reviewing contributes to continual improvement of the firm’s approach to compliance and risk management. We update your risk register and compliance plan after each cycle of file reviews, having discussed our findings and recommendations with you.
Demonstrating compliance with Lexcel, CQS, WIQS or SQM – All of our consultants are accredited by the Law Society as Lexcel consultants, we have an SQM Associate Auditor in our team and we also work with firms to achieve membership to the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) and Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS). For firms who currently hold or are working towards these quality marques, we assess compliance with the relevant requirements as part of the file review process.
Demonstrating compliance with service level agreements and protocols – Many of our clients use their own internal processes and/or operate specific service level agreements and protocols with certain clients. We assess compliance with those requirements during the file review process.
Richard and his team have years of experience at conducting file reviews in a thorough yet efficient manner. Their practical and constructive advice has really helped us improve our internal processes.
Suzanne Lee, Partner, mfg Solicitors LLP
Our file reviews have never been so well organised and thorough thanks to Legal Compliance Services. We are consistently on track with SRA compliance due to their guidance and support. Richard Robinson is always an email or phone call away!
Louise Creighton, Senior Partner, Creighton & Partners