By Legal Futures Associate Osprey Approach
With April’s professional indemnity insurance renewal date coming up fast – an estimated 30% of the market now renews policies in April – preparation is key to securing lower PII rates.
For the majority of law firms, PII now costs almost 5% of law firms’ turnover – up to 20% if your firm relies on conveyancing – which increases pressure and strain on profitability and long-term viability. Analysis of the legal market from business advisory firm Hazelwoods states that 46 firms have had to close since June 2022, after failing to secure PII cover because of rising costs. On top of increasing insurance rates, fines for non-compliance is also rising an Oxfordshire law firm was recently fined a record £20,000 for ‘reckless’ AML breaches. Better management and documentation of quality controls and risk mitigation is more important than ever.
Putting in the time to focus on the presentation of the renewal proposal will help your firm achieve optimum results at renewal, as recommended by Insurance Brokers, Howdens Group, for the ILFM.
To help you gather the data and information you need to present in your PII proposal, we’ve detailed the five digital tools all modern law firms should have implemented to speed up the PII proposal stage. These digital tools will help you easily obtain the data you need to answer insurers questions, and help you document and highlight the quality controls you have in place to reduce risk.
Five digital tools that make it easier to create your PII proposal
Good quality practice and case management solutions (PCMS) should provide you with the digital tools you need to evidence the proactive steps your law firm is taking to mitigate risk and improve the long-term stability of the practice.
Real-time reports and dashboards
Ensure that your firm makes full use of the reporting tools and interactive dashboards, which are fully integrated into your PCMS, as this will enable you to gather accurate data without hours of manual admin to complete your PII proposal forms.
The data that you collect and store in your PCMS can be easily extracted, across all work types, branches, and departments in your firm, to build fully customisable reports and real-time dashboards. The extensive reporting tools provide and document that all-important evidence on the quality controls and performance of the business with ease. Interactive business intelligence reports in Osprey visual your data and helps you proactively monitor in real-time to further reduce risk.
Set these dashboards or reports in advance so you’re always in control of the data and can continuously implement improvements to better the performance of the firm.
The standardisation of processes, especially in practice areas like conveyancing, is the best way to show your due diligence and quality control to reduce error in high risk tasks. Legal workflows standardise any particular task or process by breaking down the stages into actions. Each workflow can then be followed in order to ensure all compliance tasks are completed, client data is collected when required, and due diligence and client care is provided throughout.
Workflows not only reduce the workload for lawyers and decrease the manual admin tasks but crucially, they provide control and visibility for managers. At a glance, the progress of a case can be monitored and an agreed standardised set of actions across each department helps evidence the quality controls that are followed firm-wide.
Simplified client onboarding
Onboarding a client requires a number of compliance checks and procedures to reduce the risk to the firm. If breached it can be a detrimental fine for the law firm.
Digitalising – and critically, centralising – your client onboarding tasks helps to protect your firm’s data, stay compliant, and reduce errors. Utilising online identity verification tools and AML checks means data is auto populated with the information you’ve already collected and is saved automatically back into the matter history. This provides your team with a single source of truth for your case and client data.
In addition to ensuring compliance and reducing risk, digital client onboarding also provides greater flexibility and service to your clients, helping you to win five-star feedback and reviews. Offer a secure client portal to upload documents, capture data securely, and sign contracts all whilst viewing and storing data centrally on the cloud.
Integrated legal accounts
Accurate and up to date financial data is a key element of the PII proposal processes. A fully integrated accounts software that manages your office and client accounts – without relying on third parties – provides the confidence you need in your data.
Gain clear visibility of your finances when everything is managed via one centralised platform. Data is seamlessly connected across time recording, billing, task management, and reports. Extensive financial reporting helps you breakdown revenue and profits per fee earner, practice area, geographical location, and time period, helping to answer the PII proposal questions.
Cloud-based centralised all-in-one platform
To strengthen your business continuity plan and provide flexibility to all employees, a cloud based PCMS should house all your data and processes. Reduce data duplication across the system to mitigate risk and ensure everyone is working from the same information.
When your firm is no longer relying on physical files or servers, you’re more agile and can adapt to challenges if the worst happens and you can’t access your office. The data and cyber security measures put in place in cloud hosted environments also ensure your data is protected and increases the security around your clients’ sensitive data.
Utilise legal technology when renewing or applying for PII
Applying or renewing your PI insurance is stressful enough when premiums are rising and the proposal requires time and attention, but you can make life easier with an all-in-one practice and case management solution. Set yourself up for success by implementing the quality controls and standardisation across your firm and then easily pull the data and numbers you need to show performance and how you’re mitigating risk.
Osprey Approach provides an all-in-one, cloud-based legal accounting, case and practice management solution to law firms of all sizes. With over 30 years’ experience in the legal software sector, Osprey’s products and services are designed to help make running a profitable, compliant, and efficient law firm easier.