The legal profession has unique workplace requirements. Law firm regulatory compliance processes can be difficult, time consuming and costly. Instead of procrastinating about the workload ahead, follow these ways to restore your relationship with statutory compliance measures and see how they can enrich your practice.
Ensuring your law firm meets audit requirements and maintains the requisite level of professional conduct depends not only on managers, but on the actions of each individual. All employees must not only be aware of the appropriate action to take in a given situation, but have the appropriate attitude to bring it to fruition every time – without cutting corners. So how can you ensure that each member of your team does their part?
Adjust your firm’s attitude towards best practice
The first step is to realise that statutory compliance is not merely an ‘authoritative burden’, but a valuable means to generate client satisfaction, profitability and industry credibility. Staff should recognise that best practice compliance not only benefits the firm (which ultimately impacts their remuneration), but elevates their professional reputation, protects their integrity as a practitioner and promotes a better workplace culture.
Policies and procedures are not enough
Best practice policies and procedures themselves do not guarantee compliance. They must be supplemented by a strongly entrenched ethical infrastructure. The conduct of your lawyers doesn’t only reflect your written policies and procedures – it will be influenced by your firm’s culture.
Workplace culture cannot be created in a document – it’s shaped by the unwritten rules, adopted customs, accepted values and visible behaviours that set the tone in your office. Therefore, the extent to which you religiously implement best practice will ultimately be reflected by others in your team.
Adopt realistic systems
Give your law firm the best chance to follow regulatory compliance by making your systems easy to follow and not unduly demanding or time consuming. Maintain a level of flexibility where possible and allow staff to make suggestions on how you can improve procedures to achieve best practice in a way that not only meets regulations, but is convenient for them.
Employ management software to keep costs down
Comprehensive practice management systems such as Infinitylaw and Thomson Reuters Elite provide a range of electronic administrative and accounting functions that cut the time and cost involved in regulatory compliance. They come equipped with tools to manage tasks such as trust accounting, safe custody, conflict checks and risk management, which themselves provide a useful basis for best-practice procedures.
Centralised digital storage also enables round-the-clock access to files, workflow checklists and notes, affording managers enhanced ability to keep an eye how their staff are following policies and procedures.
Whichever strategies you choose to adopt, remember that systems are only as good as the people who implement them. Employees who take pride in the high professional and ethical standards of their firm have a vested interest in doing their part to make sure you meet your obligations.