Since September 2010, Lexcel accreditation has been attainable by any law firm or in-house legal department anywhere in the world. The scheme continues to be administered by the Law Society of England and Wales.
For some practices, accreditation is an absolute must have, whilst for others it represents a distraction from day-to-day practice management. The key question to ask is: why do you want it? Usually there are three possible drivers:
Of course, Lexcel can assist with all these aspects. However, it’s the motivation behind going for the badge that can make all the difference.
It is quite possible to use Lexcel as a framework for compliance and an audit trail mechanism. Although Lexcel is not sold in this light, the quality standard is regarded by many practices as a mechanism for ensuring regulatory compliance with the SRA’s Code of Conduct.
In the same way that many suppliers of practice management software say their products assist with compliance, the key word is “assist”. Neither good software nor Lexcel itself can guarantee compliance. The burden of ensuring adherence to regulatory demands rests firmly with the partners or business owners.
This approach means that you are using the process simply to meet the standards set by Lexcel. Whilst this will put you on an even footing with your competitors, that really is all it will do.
Having achieved accreditation, you will only be perceived as being as good as your competitors. The net result is that you will have gone through the pain only to end up as one of many in a crowded marketplace. That’s a great deal of effort for no perceivable competitive advantage. In all likelihood, achieving the assessment criteria will deliver a fixed approach to working practices without any noticeable improvement to service for clients.
If you use Lexcel for strategic gain, you really are taking the bull by the horns. You are embarking upon an odyssey that will raise numerous questions about the way in which your practice functions and how that can be improved. The aim should be to improve the business for partners, employees and clients and to continue improving and adapting thereafter.
The starting point for all this has to be at the strategic business planning level. You’ll need to re-evaluate all your processes and establish how they can be improved for every stakeholder. A key part of this also involves establishing differentiators that will set you apart from your competition. Once done, you can build them into the standard and review their efficacy.
The strategic route will inevitably be a longer journey than the check-box approach. However, it makes more sense to build a platform for the future rather than one that documents past working practices. In all businesses, there is only one constant factor – the presence of change. Those practices that do not embrace and adapt changing markets will fall by the wayside. Using Lexcel at the strategic level is a good way to implement change and build in constant re-evaluation for future market changes.
Mike O’Donnell is an experienced marketing professional who has spent much of his career working in and advising the legal profession. For further biographical details click this link.
© LawWare Limited 2016-2017
Our clients range from small start-up legal practices to multi-partner, multi-site firms.
As the first commercial user of LawWare back in 1998, we have had no hesitation in remaining with the product through its development. We thoroughly recommend it to any firm looking for a practice management system.
The helpdesk is exceptionally good. Whatever the query there is always a human being there to help. No leaving messages or being advised to go to a website. The best computer service for solicitors I have ever used!
The linking of documents and casefiles saves so much time! I have experience of several accounts packages and I like that LawWare is simple to use and easy to learn. Support is quick and effective and staff are helpful and courteous.
I have worked with a number of Case Management providers over the years but have not come across anything with the attention to detail and thoroughness of LawWare. My colleagues and I have not been disappointed.
I can’t imagine trying to be a law firm in the 21st Century without 21st Century IT systems. Having a ‘single system’ that underpins all the work, whether we are in the office or out, is an integral part of what we are building.
The level of support is the main benefit using this system. The system itself once you have had training is simple and easy to use. We have a great relationship with LawWare and the ongoing support is second to none.
Significant preparation was required to configure and import the data from our old firm. We had to get all clients onto the new system and then learn how to use it. We just find it very easy to use, much easier than our old system.
It’s a big help that you can speak to the boss directly. The support team takes a lot of the technological stress away and, as LawWare continues to build relationships and integrations with other suppliers, it makes our life much easier.
Being a busy litigator with a growing firm it is incredibly useful to be able to view my files from any location with some form of internet connection. I am a fan, and want to keep working with LawWare to make a good product great.
The switch to the new LawCloud system, which is still on-going, has gone very well. We found the LawWare team without exception to be very helpful and knowledgeable. All queries are followed up and dealt with promptly.