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The New Lexcel Version 5.0 Standard


The New Lexcel Version 5.0

Change is in the air as 2011 hurtles along to October, when the new SRA "Outcome Focussed" regulation kicks in, and all and sundry will be able to have a stake in Legal Firms under new freedoms provided by the Legal Services Act.

At the same time, the Lexcel Office of the Law Society will introduce the latest version of Lexcel, Version 5. Version 4.1 was a "bridging" standard designed as a tweak to Version 4.0 to bring it more up to date until Version 5 is introduced.

So what can we expect to see in Version 5?

Well, some of that will depend on the Professional Indemnity Insurance Sector, who have heavily influenced sections of Lexcel in the past, such as the Risk Management Section.

But we anticipate that a lot of the new standard will be designed to complement the new SRA regulatory approach. After all, a strong marketing message for the previous versions of Lexcel has been that a firm will be "less likely" to be non-compliant with SRA regulations if it uses a Lexcel framework.

So expect to see new management responsibilities in the standard, such as the Compliance Officer for Finance and Administration (COFA) and the Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP). These positions will need to be supported by a clear management framework and reporting infrastructure as outlaid by a new standard. So expect the SRA to want to see extensive business plans, which wil certainly feature in the new Lexcel standard.

It's hard to speculate what else the standard may bring, especially when previous standards haven't pushed key elements of SRA strategy, such as Rule 9 compliance in the past.

One thing it may stress is the need for process efficiency, something the sector is not really familiar with, but may have a steep learning curve ahead of it. This is where all forms of waste and inefficiency are removed from a legal service, allowing a firm to cut its costs but not necessarily its prices. This will be a key methodology for firms to learn to compete with non-legal organisations that aim at bread and butter, easily commoditised services such as Conveyancing or basic Personal Injury cases.