The Problem With File Reviews
The problem with File Reviews...
There are still lots of solicitors firms that think file reviews are optional, and that they don't really have to worry about them too much.
And those firms would be wrong.
The SRA Handbook 2011 has a mandatory outcome in chapter 7 as follows;
"O(7.8) you have a system for supervising clients' matters, to include the regular checking of the quality of work by suitably competent and experienced people"
By default this means file reviews, so all firms should do a regular file review across all fee earners and all categories of law that they provide at regular intervals.
At cpm21 we regularly analyse file reviews in our solicitor clients, and find that they can be highly variable in the way they are undertaken. Here are some of the things we find;
• A year's worth of file reviews for a department with not one single corrective action or observation noted. (What's wrong with that? - Ask yourselves how likely it is...)
• One large "tick" written across the file review forms, and the individual questions ignored.
• Use of a template file review form produced by a commercial organisation that is fine for a particular category, such as Conveyancing, but doesn't meet all the criteria of the SRA mandatory principles and outcomes.
• Failure of the reviewer to sign the file review form
• Corrective actions identified on the file review form, but then not "closed out" when they have been completed, or worse still, not completed at all
• Failure to identify or record trends for fee earners, resulting in the same mistake taking place month after month
• File review form kept in a central register, but no copy put on the file
• No discussion with fee earners who have corrective actions on their file reviews
File reviews if completed properly have many business benefits to a legal firm, and are the best "early warning system" that a firm can have regarding the abilities of its fee earners. It's a precursor to complaints and indemnity claims that unfortunately, even when undertaken, is not taken seriously enough and becomes a meaningless exercise in "box ticking."
So if your firm is one of those that don't take them seriously, now is the time to change.