This is a rather dry, but clearly necessary, guide to achieving the Law Society’s legal practice quality mark for excellence.
The 138-page guide to achieving the Lexcel mark is helpfully split into two: the first half is devoted to private practices and the second to in-house legal departments, in each case in England and Wales. On that basis, there are only around 75 pages – depending on type of practice – to work through to achieve the standard.
While on initial review the subject matter is presented rather unappetisingly in checklist form, it is apparent that some thought has gone into the layout. This uses text boxes to highlight and demarcate hints and requirements for sole practitioners from those for small and medium-sized practices and, separately again, larger firms. Shaded text boxes are used to highlight key issues to be aware of when being assessed and particular points that assessors will look for.
Even for the well-informed practice, this is a useful summary of how the Law Society sees a practice being optimally run. There are some interesting prompts. For example, the section on management policies (often a weakness for legal firms) explicitly requires that attention be given to performance management and recognises the growing popularity of flexible working.
The Law Society
£59.95, Law Society Publishing
That said, this is not rocket science and a note that procedures must be in place to ensure that all personnel ‘are actually supervised’ gives a sense both of the top-to-bottom review that takes place and the back-to-basics positioning.
The first 14 pages are perhaps the most useful. These set out a glossary of terms used in the process and the spine of the assessment procedure in a series of statements which describe the necessary policies and procedures that must be in place to achieve the award. In short, a document against which all practices can benchmark their current policies and procedures.
For those firms thinking of going for the award, this will be invaluable because it walks applicants through the entire process and explains what assessors are looking for.
There are no surprises here: the guide’s self-assessment that it is ‘an essential resource that will help law firms and in-house legal departments to understand the requirements for attaining and retaining accreditation under the revised Lexcel standard, version 6’ is difficult to gainsay.
Tom Garbett is an associate at Pinsent Masons