24 hour helpline:
‘Lexcel is a tired old quality standard. It was created by bureaucrats and has been sustained by self-interested ‘consultants’ and clueless practice managers. It is a standard which clients don’t care about, insurers don’t respect and good lawyers don’t need’.
That is how one contributor to a Linkedin discussion forum recently described the practice management standard of the Law Society of England & Wales.
If I were to declare any sympathy with his point of view I would be likely to be locked in a cellar at Chancery Lane and formally defrocked during a ceremony conducted by the Lexcel High Commissionaire, completed, of course, in the presence of an administrative sub-committee. I have to be careful what I say, so I will limit my comments about Lexcel to this one remark.
There is not a single shred of objective, verifiable evidence that Lexcel accreditation lowers PII premiums or keeps you safe from the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
It is true that there is some anecdotal evidence that indemnity insurers and the SRA treat accredited firms marginally more sympathetically than they treat the rest, but even if this is true, do the rewards justify the expense and the effort? Probably not.
So why do I remain an enthusiastic supporter of Lexcel?
Over the years I have got to know hundreds of solicitors who own their own firms. With a few exceptions they are capable technical lawyers, good at doing and at winning work and at providing a good service to their clients. But I have noticed that these individuals fall into two broad categories – solicitors who own a practice and solicitors who own a business.
A solicitor who owns a practice is at the apex of an organisation which revolves around and depends upon him. He is overworked, stressed, exhausted and often disillusioned. His firm does not exist apart from himself nor does it serve his life or pay dividends to his family; rather it consumes his life and takes from his family. He has lost control of his employees, money, time, insurers, lenders, clients, and suppliers. He has lost control of his firm and – much more importantly – he has lost control of his life. He doesn’t really own a firm; he owns a job. He has no exit plan and is often imprisoned in his own practice.
A solicitor who owns a business is at the apex of an organisation which revolves around and depends upon the business system which he has created. He enjoys a balanced life and has healthy relationships at home and at work. His business exists apart from him and ‘works’ with or without him. It serves his life and it rewards his family. His business is a place of impeccable good order, where robust and intelligent systems control his employees, money, time, insurers, lenders, clients, and suppliers. His business consistently and predictably produces income, profit, cash flow and equity in significantly greater amounts than his competitors. He can exit from the business, whether by sale or succession, on his own terms and when he does, he knows he will achieve true financial freedom and prosperity.
The difference between the first and second ‘type’ of solicitor-owner is not that one is a good lawyer and the other is not. It is simply that one has continued to churn out ‘good’ law himself whereas the other has realised that it is his responsibility to engineer and build a business system which churns out ‘good’ law.
If you don’t have a business system then you don’t have a business; you have a job. And you have the worst kind of job imaginable because you are working for a boss who is stressed, disorganised and out of control. As one commentator puts it, you are working for a lunatic!
Lexcel, implemented properly, is simply a business system. Apply it seriously and it will revolutionise your firm, turning it from a practice which consumes and imprisons you into a business which serves and liberates you.
If your indemnity insurers and regulators are also impressed then that is a secondary benefit and a welcome one. The primary benefit though, the thing that really matters, is that getting Lexcel is good for your wellbeing, your health, your prosperity and your happiness.
Client Relationship Manager
T: 0845 056 3949
M: 0743 727 4046
The Law Society has issued a practice note about the risks to solicitors posed by this new legislation, which came into force on 30 September.
The SRA has urged all practices to check HM Treasury’s consolidated list of asset freeze targets, which lists designated persons subject to financial sanction under EU or UK legislation.
The practising certificate renewal period opened on Monday 2 October.
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