Hands up who looks at their office manual other than to revise it for audit purposes? No, I thought not. Perhaps I am wrong but many firms see office manuals as a tick-box exercise to get through the Lexcel or SQM requirements for legal aid or other purposes. The trick is not just ticking that box but actually getting all staff (managers and partners included) to use the things.
The experience of some firms applying for Lexcel or SQM is that it is hard work but extremely valuable.
For other firms it is just hard work. There are obvious advantages in having standard policies, plans, and what is basically a rulebook for everything and everyone. This book will help enormously in achieving the standards that are set. Although it is written for Lexcel, the contents will assist anyone with SQM to review their office procedures.
The CD-ROM that is included with the book means you can easily access the templates and convert them to your firm’s use.
Lexcel Small Practice Toolkit includes policies on outsourcing, social media, and the whole range of IT encompassing internet access, website management and the use of experts. The list of subjects you must have policies for or plans about will no doubt increase in the future. For the small firm there is likely to be just one person responsible for all of this and, believe me, it is a significant burden.
One wonders if these requirements are excessive for a small firm. Do they actually help? Probably, because it forces you to think about areas you do not normally consider. It is probably the day-to-day use of the toolkit which is most important. Sadly you cannot write an excellent office manual and then leave it in a drawer until the auditors come again in three years’ time.
Most, if not all, policies and plans need not only to be written but also reviewed and updated. This excellent book goes a long way to making our lives easier.
The Law Society
£49.95, Law Society Publishing
David Pickup is senior partner at Aylesbury-based Pickup & Scott