Posted by Chris Giles, CEO at Legal Futures Associate LegalRM
My last blog established that far more matter mobility is taking place nowadays, and that this is a trend, not a phase. Since it can cause a significant administrative burden to fall on firms, they should try to minimise the impact.
But how do you ensure that offboarding and onboarding are performed as efficiently and compliantly as possible? The answer is that firms should develop policies, systems, processes and procedures for both.
The first rule of offboarding, which should be enshrined in policy, is that the firm does not take action until it receives proper notification from the client of its intention to move. (Lawyers jumping ship are notoriously prone to over-estimate the number of clients who’ll follow them, so don’t act until it’s official.)
Thereafter, the first process is to make sure the client does not owe the firm money. You must then gather all the client’s records and data, which might be held in a number of places and formats. Senior members of the firm must then review the materials for transfer.
The key tasks are removing anything commercially sensitive, as well as anything that might embarrass the firm – like derogatory remarks and bad language. You will also need to copy anything that could be needed to defend a potential future action against the firm by the departing client.
The firm needs rules and processes around who, at what level, makes these decisions and enacts them. And records must be kept of all the decisions and actions taken.
Thereafter, firms receiving data have an equal need of policies and processes. They should ensure that anything received is held in an interim location before ingestion into the firm’s systems, so that conflict and regulatory checks can happen.
Next you must assess data formats and find space for new records. And have some logic around the allocation of new matter numbers.
To optimise the efficiency of all this activity, firms should institute the right governance measures, procedures and controls, and embrace all the available opportunities for automation.
These can include workflow wrappers and systems that manage processes and authorisations smoothly, as well as interfaces that make it as easy as possible for senior lawyers to review material.
Since increased matter mobility has become part and parcel of legal work, it now makes sense to ensure it impacts firm productivity and profitability as little as possible.
To find out more, read our white paper, Why matter mobility should be a key competence for firms, or ask us for a demo to see how iCompli from LegalRM can streamline the process of data transfer accurately, whilst reducing risk and improving client service.