Just eight applicants to the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) have been rejected, it has emerged.
The number of applicants has now passed 1,000, of which 317 have so far been approved. But Law Society chief executive Des Hudson has told Legal Futures that the scheme’s credibility would not be judged on how many are rejected.
A further five have been given three months to make the necessary changes to meet the required CQS standards, while Mr Hudson said others have successfully appealed decisions to reject them.
CQS also has an assessment panel in place to look at some firms before they are either accredited or rejected.
Mr Hudson said: “It should also be remembered that most solicitors in residential conveyancing already provide an excellent level of service that meets the high standards CQS measures, so it is not surprising to see that a small number have been rejected out of the 317 accredited so far.”
He pointed out that the scheme was developed with specialist knowledge from the insurance and lender industries, while risk consultants helped produce the scorecard against which firms are judged. Further, once a firm is accredited, it will be subject to visits from assessors and if they do not at that stage meet the required standards or have provided false information, then their membership can be revoked.
Mr Hudson said: “There is no magic formula that dictates credibility, no ratio of rejections to accreditations. The scheme is thorough in ensuring the highest standards are reflected in firms accredited with CQS. Are we measuring the success of the scheme on how many firms are rejected, or the quality of those firms that have been accredited and ensuring that they maintain that quality? It is obviously the latter.”
The cost of applying and being a member of CQS ranges from £350 + VAT for sole practitioners to £1,950 + VAT for firms of 50 or more partners. The society has around 24 staff dedicated to the operation of the scheme.
We understand there is work going on to create a vehicle that will help CQS firms obtain professional indemnity insurance.
Mr Hudson’s report to next week’s Law Society council meeting says that 2,262 home movers have clicked through to find a CQS member since Chancery Lane’s pay-per-click advertising campaign started in Easter. The advertisement has appeared over six million times.
Where it appeared in response to a Google search (102,000 times), 1,907 people have clicked on the advertisement, and 1,224 of those searched for a solicitor. Where geographical location was part of the search (eg “legal help in Manchester”), the conversion rate from clicking on the advert to conducting a search was “especially high” at 89%.
A report to the Law Society’s membership board in May revealed that each online lead – triggered when a user clicks on the society’s website – had an effective cost of £25.