It can be hard for prospective clients, suppliers, and employees to evaluate the quality of a law firm. Every law firm’s website and other marketing materials are designed to present the business in the best light possible.
However, there is one thing that separates the ‘wheat from the chaff’ when it comes to legal practices, and that is their accreditations. The accreditation which stands out above the rest is Lexcel.
Lexcel is the Law Society of England and Wales’ quality mark. Make no mistake, any law firm or legal department which has a Lexcel accreditation has been required to work exceptionally hard not only to earn it, but also to keep it.
Lexcel can be acquired by a legal practice of any size, including sole practitioners, in-house counsel, and local government. It provides a framework for legal bodies to create policies and procedures in seven different areas:
- structure and strategy
- financial management
- information management
- people management
- risk management
- client care
- file and case management
The framework helps practices continually to improve the way they deliver advice, and provide client services. ‘Continuous’ is the operative word here – Lexcel is not a static accreditation and new versions are regularly released. This ensures the standard continues to adapt to improvements and developments in all seven areas.
The process of attaining Lexcel accreditation
The process of attaining Lexcel accreditation requires a law firm to make a serious commitment in terms of time, and training. Lexcel provides the framework; however, the policies and procedures surrounding the seven different areas must be prepared and updated in-house. Lexcel accredited firms have to ensure ‘buy-in’ from everyone in the practice, so that the culture of quality is embedded through the entire firm, and in all client interactions.
Before a Lexcel accreditation is granted, a legal practice must undertake a rigorous assessment. Assessments are carried out by one of three independent assessor bodies who are licensed by the Law Society. This ensures that the process is independent, objective and maintains meticulous quality control.
Once Lexcel is awarded, the firm must undergo annual re-accreditation, known as annual maintenance visits. This includes a full reassessment every three years to ensure continued compliance.
What does Lexcel mean for clients?
For clients, choosing to instruct a Lexcel accredited firm means they can be confident of receiving a quality service. In a Lexcel practice, you can be assured there is a dedicated procedure for managing client files, which is followed by everyone in the firm.
Committing to the Lexcel standard means you can expect a detailed letter of engagement, setting out your instructions and providing clear and transparent information on how we will achieve your aims, and the costs involved. In the rare circumstance you may not be satisfied with the service received, we also provide a clear procedure for managing complaints and achieving a swift resolution, where possible.
Firms who have the Lexcel accreditation also attract the best talent to their organisations. Top solicitors in their field know a firm which holds the Standard must have clear policies and procedures in place surrounding people management including career progression, and providing a supportive and accountable working environment. All staff within the firm adhere to a culture of quality and client care not just set out by the firm, but also put in place by the Law Society of England and Wales.
In addition clients of Lexcel firms can be reassured of best practice by the policies and procedures which cover the firm’s financial management, and the control of client money. This also includes the prevention of fraud, money laundering and best practice for cybercrime prevention. Suppliers also know they will be paid promptly and treated fairly. This mean a law firm with a Lexcel accreditation can partner with top-level suppliers, and build strong relationships with others who can add value to their services and ultimately, the client.
To find out more about Lexcel, please call our office on 01323 727 321.
Please note, this article does not constitute legal advice.