Lexcel provides professionals in law firms and in-house legal departments internationally with a flexible, supportive management framework to help develop greater operational efficiencies, manage risk effectively, reduce costs and promote profitability.
What is Lexcel?
Lexcel is the Law Society's international practice management standard. It is a scheme for any type of practice to certify that certain standards have been met following independent assessment.
The Lexcel practice management standard is only awarded to solicitors who meet the highest management and customer care standards. Lexcel accredited practices undergo rigorous independent assessment every year to ensure they meet required standards of excellence in areas.
What are the benefits of Lexcel?
- Effective risk management leading to fewer claims or complaints.
- Better customer service leading to increased client retention.
- Lower insurance premiums or favourable treatment from insurers.
- Improved marketability and competitive advantage.
- Increased success in tenders and panel reviews.
- Helping to demonstrate best value compliance.
- Consistency of service from all solicitors and practice groups.
The application of lexcel requirements varies from practice to practice. However the following general requirements have been incorporated by Viberts.
Structures and policies
The firm will have documentation setting out the following:
- The legal framework under which they operate and the management structure which designates the responsibilities of individuals and their accountability.
- A risk management policy.
- A policy covering the firm’s outsourced activities.
- A policy outlining the firm’s commitment to equality and diversity in all of its procedures, and how discrimination is avoided.
- A health and safety procedure for all staff, clients and visitors to the firm.
- A policy outlining the firm’s community and social responsibilities.
The firm will develop and maintain the following strategic policies:
- A business plan including measurable objectives covering the next 12 months and a recruitment plan.
- A marketing plan with related objectives for the next 12 months.
- Documentation of the range of services offered by the firm, how the services are provided and which client groups they are aimed at.
- A business continuity plan including an evaluation of potential risks and ways in which the risks can be reduced or avoided.
- An IT plan including the application of IT services within the firm and the ways in which IT will help facilitate services for the clients.
The firm are required to comply with the following financial management procedures:
- Documented confirmation of who has overall responsibility for financial management in the firm.
- Documentary evidence of the firm’s financial management system, including its annual Budget, annual income and expenditure accounts, annual balance sheets, and annual income and expenditure forecast.
- A time-recording procedure detailing the accurate management of time spent on matters for billing purposes and the monitoring of work in progress.
- A procedure in relation to billing clients including the frequency and terms for billing, credit limits for new and existing clients and procedure to manage debts.
- A procedure for handling financial transactions.
The firm have introduced the following information management processes:
- An information management policy including the identification of information assets of both the firm and clients, potential risks to these assets, procedures for the protection and security of the assets, and a procedure for training individuals.
- An email policy covering permitted and prohibited use, monitoring procedures, management and security of emails and the storage and destruction of emails.
- A website management policy covering content approval, publishing and removal, permitted and prohibited content and the management of its security.
- An internet access policy including permitted and prohibited use and procedures for monitoring use.
- A social media policy covering a procedure for participating in social media on behalf of the firm and permitted and prohibited content.
- A procedure for conducting legal research.
- An office manual collating information on all office practice, which is available to all staff and reviewed and updated regularly.
The firm will have the following procedures in place to aid the management of its staff:
- A plan for the training and development of staff.
- Job descriptions for every individual staff member.
- Recruitment and selection, induction and exit and performance management procedures.
The firm will carry out the following procedures to manage risk to the business:
- Designate an overall risk manager as well as named supervisors for the various areas of the firm’s business.
- Procedure for managing instructions which have a higher risk profile, including unusual supervisory and reporting requirements.
- List of work that the firm will and will not undertake which is communicated to all staff and updated as and when required.
- Details of the generic risks and causes of claims associated with the areas of work undertaken by the firm.
- Monitor and record of key dates by work type, on the file and in a back-up system, and to reduce the risk that they are missed.
- Policy on conflict handling and steps to be followed when a conflict is identified.
- Procedure to ensure all staff are supervised including checks on correspondence, financial controls, team and individual meetings and the allocation and reallocation of work.
- Checks on inactive files.
- Procedure for regular, independent file reviews.
- Procedure for considering and reviewing the operational risk associated with each new matter before they are accepted by the firm, during the processing of the matter, and after the matter has closed.
- Annual review of risk assessment data collected by the firm.
- Procedures for the prevention of financial crime.
The firm will have the operate the following procedures to ensure client care:
- Client care policy covering how enquiries from potential clients are dealt with, ensuring that there are sufficient resources and competence within the firm to deal appropriately with the client’s case and ensuring client confidentiality.
- Confirmation to the client, in writing, of the client’s requirements and objectives, issues and options involved in their case, what the fee-earner will and will not do, the steps that will be taken, establishing a frequency for status updates, timescales and funding.
- Records of agreed terms and conditions with regular clients.
- Provision of the likely overall costs to the client in relation to their matter.
- Documented complaints handling procedure.
- Procedure to monitor client satisfaction.
- Procedure for referring clients to third parties.
File and case management
The firm has put in place the following procedures to ensure the appropriate management of client files and cases:
- Procedure to accept or decline instructions.
- Documented case strategy outlined for every case.
- Procedures to ensure that matters are progressed in a timely and appropriate manner covering response times to clients’ phone-calls, emails or letters and regular updates on the cost of matters.
- Procedures for the giving, monitoring and discharge of undertakings.
- Procedure to include listing open and closed matters, identifying all matters for a single client and linked files where relevant and all files for a particular funder, ensuring that the firm can identify and trace any documents, files, deeds, wills or any other items relating to the matter, safeguarding the confidentiality of matter files and all other client information, ensuring that the status of the matter and the action taken can be easily checked by other members of the practice and ensuring that documents are stored on the matter files in an orderly way.
- Documented procedure for the use of counsel, legal experts and witnesses and other advisers involved in giving legal services.
- Written matter closing procedure.