By Legal Futures’ Associate Tikit
By now you will have heard plenty about the changes to the SRA Standards and Regulations that came into effect in November. This brings with it a good opportunity to take a look at your firm as a whole and question if the technology you use allows you to adhere to regulation, whilst still remaining profitable and providing the best service to clients.
All legal specific PCMS software will include tools to keep records of clients and matter, along with recording financial transactions. They should also provide a conflict check, which is important when fulfilling the obligations of confidentiality and disclosure. As well as this, your system should keep a record and identify when you have duplicate records, making compliance easier by ensuring personal data is kept up to date.
Most systems provide tools to record client identity and will integrate with electronic ID checks, but the very good will warn cashiers when the ID check hasn’t been passed when posting to the client ledger, or give the ability to lock a matter if ID hasn’t been received. An additional bonus would be to have the ability to set cash receipts limits, with the option to generate a report to the MLRO if that has been exceeded.
One of the biggest cause of complaints to the Legal Ombudsman is billing; both excessive and irregular. The Code of Conduct requires for the client to be well advised up front, and be kept well informed of costs. Use your system to enter quote and matter limits, and use time recording tools to accurately monitor these limits, and diarise costs reviews. The good systems will have tools to alert when limits are being reached, and make billing easy. But don’t forget, your firm needs protecting as well, so credit limits should also be applied to ensure the risk of the client being unable to pay their bill is reduced.
When looking at a case management system, document production is one of the key features. But it’s surprising how many firms still don’t use it, and will either type a document from scratch or copy and paste saved documents. The element of risk here is huge, not to mention the inefficiencies. By setting up templates, you can be confident that the content in the letters you write is accurate, and the data entered into the system can be used correctly to maximise quality, accuracy and efficiency.
A lot of systems have case management workflows, which give greater levels of automation and efficiency. Most firms will say they offer a more personal touch and workflows aren’t for them. Instead look to introduce small snippets of automation in areas of client/matter inception, complaints handling, file closure and this will free up valuable time that can be spent offering a really great service to your clients.
Tikit will be at the Legal Futures Compliance Conference on the 11th March – pop by our stand for a chat if you’re there too!