The humble file review is still viewed by many firms of solicitors as another administrative burden.
However, with a slight shift of focus and the implementation of an effective file review system benefits as wide ranging as improving client satisfaction, supporting effective leadership and improving the firms profitability can all be derived from that single sheet of paper that appears to be nothing more than a "tick box" exercise.
So, if you're looking for a return on your investment - both time and money then read on and consider how much more you could be making in your firm even if you only recouped the lost opportunity cost so often attributed to file reviews.
So, how can I confidently make these suggestions? I've been showing solicitors how to benefit from an effective file review system since 1999, which is a considerable time before they became an SRA requirement.
In addition to my consultancy services working with 420 law firms, reviewing and managing improvements from 45,000 file reviews across all legal disciplines, I have also run my own outsourced file review business for over 10 years. Add in to the mix that I was retained by an insurer to improve their Defendant PI panel, which is where and how I created the effective file review system.
An effective file review system has been the cornerstone for turning the worst performing team or fee earner into the top performing within a very short period of time.
The effective system underpins the continuous improvement of client service delivery, can eradicate all client complaints and be at the centre of continually improving profits.
When an effective file review system is in place, the opportunities that are presented to forward thinking and open minded law firms is phenomenal.
To sum up the power of an effective file review system in one sentence I would say, "your file review system is your business panacea and in the right hands will enable you to solve every problem within your law firm, enabling rising profits."
So, here are my top 66 hidden benefits of effective file reviewing system:
Effective File Reviews...
- Provides valuable management information
- Identifies genuine training needs
- Identifies precisely where the opportunities for improvement lie
- Identifies the trends that need management intervention
- Identifies trends that need an adjustment to systems or procedures
- Provides client centric information
- Ensures retainer client requirements are being met
- Enables client complaints (and even grumbles) to be eradicated
- Dovetails with mystery shopping
- Links seamlessly with client perception testing
- Provides objective evidence to support client attraction programs and beauty parades
- Enables the Managing Partner to see the performance of the whole firm on one single sheet of paper
- Enables Team Leaders to prioritise their supervision time.
- Enables pertinent information to be presented to the COLP
- Gathers objective information for updating the Risk Register
- Enable a targeted campaign to reduce write offs
- Provides objective information for fee earner appraisals
- Provides objective information for any redundancy selection
- Provides objective information to support disciplinary action
- Enables a consistent service to be provided to clients across a team
- Enables confident departmental cross referral to separate
- Enables the promulgation of core standards
- Promotes rapid cultural change
- Enables merged firms to create a consistent standard of service
- Forms part of the due diligence process
- Promotes best practice
- Ensures client satisfaction
- Enables fee earners to know what to focus on to improve
- Provides a valuable measure for fee earners improvements
- Validates the effectiveness of training
- Ensures compliance with external quality standards
- Identifies the most efficient way of handling files
- Identifies the weak points in file handling (beginning, middle, end)
- Identifies where file maintenance could be causing problems.
- Enables identification of where the specifics of client SLA’s are not being met before the client does and so you potentially keep a profitable client you may have otherwise lost.
- Identifies proactivity trends
- Let’s you see the impact holidays or sickness has on client service standards
- Enables you to spend your time most wisely on the most important actions to give you the greatest results.
- Provides information on the use of File Summary Sheets
- Provides information on the completion of File Risk Registers
- Keeps a check on fee earners production of attendance notes ensuring sufficient details have been recorded and if hand written are legible.
- Identifies if client objectives are clearly set out.
- Early warning system for a possible client complaint.
- Check on all costs information
- Check on client and own conflict of interest searches
- Whether Identity has been confirmed
- Whether the risk assessment has been correctly undertaken
- Identifies any slips on recording of key dates
- Ensures proper management of Undertakings
- Checks that all fee earners are using approved Counsel or Experts
- Keeps a check on whether the client has up to date terms of business
- Identifies whether communication with the client been in accordance with their preferred method.
- Details when telephone calls being returned within the specified timescales
- Identifies when letters and emails are being responded to in accordance with firm or client specific timescales
- Identifies whether clients being kept informed of progress on the matter
- Details whether there any trends relating to delays
- Checks to make sure Court timetables are adhered to
- Provides the opportunity to assess trends associated with up to date costs
- Identifies any possibility of misappropriation of client funds
- Identifies when bills have not been delivered in accordance with procedure
- Identifies if the client is not paying but work is continuing on the file.
- Ensures the conclusion of the file is handled speedily
- Identifies if the closing risk assessment has not been undertaken
- Provides an alert if there is a potential complaint or claim
- Ensures the opportunity to provide any additional services to the client has been fulfilled.
- Immediately identifies where there is a downturn in fee earner performance and the reasons for the downturn
In addition to the regulatory benefits, those are my most obvious business reasons why an effective file review system is beneficial for your firm. Hopefully some of those examples I've shared with you today have helped you see how you could be benefiting even more from your file review system.
When you're ready to improve your profits and attract even more clients with your file review system at the core, then contact me and I'll let you know which single word you should change first on your file review form to start unlocking the benefits.