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Auditing & File Reviews

In a busy law firm, auditing can be a challenge to implement and maintain. However, the process of auditing is an essential part of a firm’s supervision policy and when documented, produces the necessary evidence to not only manage the quality of work within the business, but in addition, to demonstrate to external parties such as the SRA or Insurers that the firm is aware of its workings in practice and is in control.

Auditing is a valuable tool for a firm, from being able to ensure that its policies and procedures are being implemented by the staff, through to providing evidence that the firm is operating in accordance with its own and its regulatory requirements.

Auditing is often a diversion for fee earners and firms cannot always afford the time or resources to dedicate to auditing and reviewing files. The impact of failing to carry out auditing weakens the firm’s active demonstration that it takes compliance seriously and its ability take prompt remedial action where issues arise.

The Strategic Partner provides firms with the auditing resources to assist with both routine and ad hoc reviews. Our audits are undertaken by experienced staff who have worked in and therefore understand law firms.

Our solution can be a complete outsource auditing function or can work as part of a firm’s internal auditing and file reviewing activities. We can cover a range of auditing needs, all aimed at the identification of issues and provision of solutions to improve your firm’s working practices where necessary.

Law Firm Compliance

The Service

TSP provides auditing solutions by experienced Compliance Managers who are experienced in law firm processes and procedures and who will work with the firm to understand its internal workings and the services it offers.

Auditing within a law firm is an essential element of risk and compliance, including evidencing a robust approach to regulation management to the SRA and Professional Indemnity Insurers.

The failure by a firm to audit or capture the results of audits and supervision by maintaining clear reports and records prevents it from being able to demonstrate to regulators and insurers how it manages and controls risk and complies with industry regulations.

This in turn exposes the firm to the potential of an allegation of lack of supervision or control, which can then impact upon SRA investigations and professional indemnity insurance premiums.

Our Specialist Auditing Team

At The Strategic Partner, we have a team of law firm auditors who have worked within law firms as fee earners and managers across most, if not all legal services. The result is that we provide high quality outsource auditing functions that are responsive and add value every step of the way.

Independent audits are often seen as more effective, due to their impartiality. Each of the audits we provide comes with a detailed report, analysing the results of the audit, identifying issues, and suggesting solutions for the firm to consider.

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Our Auditing Services include:

  • Anti Money Laundering

    The failure to implement robust anti-money laundering procedures is a major risk to any law firm. With almost every client that arrives at a firm requiring initial and ongoing AML checks, firms are often exposed to failure to adhere to the AML Regulations and risk investigation by the SRA or other authorities. It is also a requirement of the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations to independently assess and audit the firm’s anti-money laundering policies and approach. Our services involve file audits alongside staff interviews to ensure that each key member of staff engages in the delivery of legal services which are compliant with the firm’s requirements and the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations.

  • Risk Assessments 

    Every law firm faces risk due to the nature and complexity of the services they offer and the regulations they work under. We provide audits that focus on ensuring staff are undertaking effective risk assessment on all matters at the outset, throughout, and in conclusion. Failure to undertake effective risk assessments is a weakness in any firm, as it exposes the firm to increased risk. Having a robust process for risk assessments and evidencing its application through auditing, puts the firm in a stronger position when managing its relationship with the SRA and proving to Professional Indemnity Insurers that risk is a subject the firm takes seriously. An effective solution for risk assessment management will save the firm time and money by avoiding expensive investigations and helping to manage indemnity insurance premiums.

  • Quality Assessments

    Law firms have a range of quality kitemarks, including but not limited, to Lexcel, Investors in People, CQS, WICS and SQM (Specialist Quality Mark). Each of these kitemarks have a standard against which the firm must demonstrate compliance, within its policies, processes and service delivery through auditing. As part of the audit programme provided by TSP, we ensure that any audit is compliant with the relevant quality kitemark, whether an audit specifically addresses the needs of the quality assessment, or whether it is carried out as part of a wider audit programme.

  • Supervision and Performance

    Supervision and performance is an essential element to the effective management of a law firm and is also a regulatory requirement. Despite most firms having an approach in place to deal with supervision and performance, these are not always followed by supervisors and their staff in practice, with the result being an ineffective staff supervision and performance management programme. An audit of the practical implementation of the firm’s policies around supervision not only evidences that supervision and performance are being actively assessed and managed, it also ensures that supervisors are adhering to the requirements and responsibilities set by the firm. This is an effective audit that assesses the firm’s stated requirements against practical reality and provides insight into areas for improvement to ensure there is a consistent approach firm-wide.

  • Regulation and Compliance 

    It is an expectation of the Solicitors Regulation Authority that firms will to be able to evidence their compliance with the regulations. Firms are required to have a range of policies that direct their staff on how to conduct themselves when performing their role. It is essential that a firm is able to demonstrate ongoing practical compliance with its approach, policies and procedures, and auditing is method to achieve this. Through understanding how a firm operates and the policies it has adopted to ensure compliance, we will audit your firm and staff against your policies through file reviews and staff interviews to establish how your team works in practice and identifying weaknesses and making recommendations for improvements.

  • Supervision and Processes

    Firms have a series of processes which form how they deliver services, comply with regulations, manage risk, control data, and manage their staff. Each one of these processes needs to be documented and implemented effectively, and through active monitoring, the firm can evidence how these processes are supervised and controlled, whilst also ensuring the requirements are highlighted to staff on a regular basis. Supervision and process audits require review of each of the firm’s internal documented procedures and of the processes adopted by staff and supervisors in practice, then producing a report highlighting any gaps and recommending remedial actions.

  • Equality and Diversity

    An essential element of a firm’s structure is to ensure that it operates in a way that encourages inclusion and embraces equality and diversity. This is an ongoing issue that firms must respond to as times change and is not just a requirement, it is also an expectation. Our Equality and Diversity audits will combine reviewing the overall structure of the firm and its processes (such as recruitment, selection for promotion, selection for training etc.) with speaking to individuals to understand how they feel this important area is addressed. This insightful process enables firms to understand how they currently operate, whether they comply with equality and diversity requirements and what solutions they can implement in order to deal with any weaknesses.

Law Firms can take isolated audits from the different audit options detailed above or they can build an annual audit profile across a programme of audits.

Audits can be provided on a half-day or daily basis, and we can perform these onsite or remotely, depending on the systems you operate with.

Our approach is to deliver an auditing solution that works for your firm and it is as integrated as you need it to be; however, we will always provide expert guidance and advice, and documentary evidence of auditing activities which you can use both internally and externally.

Get in touch

Contact our Compliance or Consultancy Team

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