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Lexcel 5.0 is here

 Lexcel 5.0 is here

The last time we wrote about Lexcel Version 5.0 was in August 2011, before Outcome Focused regulation kicked in.

And so here we are in November 2011. Outcomes focused regulation kicked in a month ago, and the new Lexcel standard arrived on the 1st of November 2011.

Are there any links between the two?

The answer is yes. The Lexcel office helpfully sent out an "overlaps" table where the overlaps between what Lexcel requires and what the OFR regulations demand are lined up.

But in our opinion it isn't as simple as that.

There is something far more subtle at play in the new standard. And that is the word "procedure."

Up until now, previous versions of the Lexcel standard have not used this word so much, but have rather concentrated on the word "process." A process is a loose approximation of steps taken in order to achieve a desired outcome, and is usually quite wide. A procedure, in the definition from the Lexcel office is;

"A written description of how an activity will occur within the practice. A procedure describes the steps that staff should follow in order to complete an activity."

Think of it as a formal written work instruction.

Now where this gets interesting is when you consider the other language changes in the Outcomes Focused Regulations Solicitors Handbook, the main one being "consumer." If you didn't spot it, solicitors no longer have clients, they are now consumers.

Both of these words are very unfamiliar for the Legal Sector, but they are not unfamiliar in other industries such as manufacturing.

And let's consider why. Manufacturing industries provide products and goods to the mass market, normally called commodities. In other words, they are items that anyone can produce and can be copied easily.

And this is what OFR and Lexcel are trying to produce; easily copied legal services that can be delivered at a much lower skill and qualification level than a solicitor.

In our opinion we believe this is the start of the migration towards "commoditised" services and the whole point of the Legal Services Act 2007 and so called "Tesco Law."

Both existing firms with earlier versions of Lexcel and new firms who aspire to achieve Lexcel will have to carefully look at their methods and ensure they are translated into suitable work instructions or "procedures."

But more than this, firms will have to start planning their business strategy to deal with the new "consumerism" that the Legal Services Act 2007 will inevitably bring.