A functioning system of file reviews Is a key requirement of Lexcel, CQS, SQM and other legal quality accreditations, as well as demonstrating compliance with the SRA Code of Conduct for Firms 2019, 3.5b) “you effectively supervise work being done for clients.”
The advantages to a law firm in conducting procedural and compliance file reviews goes far beyond a successful outcome of an annual Lexcel audit.
For example, a robust file review system will:
- Identify inappropriate behaviour by providing senior management, compliance officers or supervisors with early indications of any compliance issues or breaches and enable them to put steps in place to mitigate the consequences of any breach.
- Support the learning and development of the lawyer by providing valuable information about any additional supervisory and training needs of the lawyers.
- Embed the compliance culture throughout the firm.
Amongst other things file reviews should confirm that:
- All necessary client-care information has been provided.
- Anti-money laundering procedures have been followed and recorded.
- Arrangements have been made to ensure that key risks are managed, and key deadlines met.
- The file has been progressed in a timely manner and properly maintained.
There is no set number of files that should be reviewed. It very much depends on the conducting lawyer’s experience, competence, the number of high-risk files they deal with, the requirements of any quality standards or contracts, as well as the firm’s resources. In our experience the number of files that should be reviewed ranges from 1 a month to 1 every 3 months.
How cpm21 can help
Undertaking file reviews on a routine basis can often be seen as an administrative chore which gets in the way of fee earning work. Sometimes lawyers see little value in spending time reviewing other lawyers’ files and consequently file review systems break down.
For this reason, it may be beneficial to the law firm to consider outsourcing file reviews to a third party that has the resources to deliver an effective service.
Cpm21 offer an independent file review service whereby one of our experienced consultants conducts a full procedural and compliance review of an agreed number of files.
Our consultants will assess compliance against the established cpm21 file review checklist which has been developed over a number of years and is compliant with all SRA and Law Society quality assurance accreditations.