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Audits add value

Audits add value

By Legal Practitioners' Liability Committee

Practice & Procedure 

File audits are an important tool for all legal practices. File reviews are an effective way of checking your firm’s susceptibility to claims as well as being good file management practice. No matter the size of the practice, monitoring files for compliance with the firm’s standards and for identifying risk areas that need attention are sound claims prevention strategies. File audits can also reveal potential problems on a particular matter that can be resolved before a claim arises. Supervising experienced staff. Many firms employ lawyers and clerks who work independently and run their own files. Regular face-to-face meetings with even highly experienced employees are critical for monitoring the progress of matters. Reviewing files is a key supervisory tool for ensuring that files are being properly managed as well as providing insight into how people are coping with their file loads. File audits are not a sign of mistrust. LPLC’s experience shows people can fall into bad habits that can be exacerbated when they are busy, under tight time pressures or dealing with personal issues. At one firm the principal conducted a file review and discovered that an experienced lawyer was falsifying time records, not actioning matters and misleading clients about what was being done. The lawyer was having personal difficulties and not coping with the work, and despite working closely with the lawyer over several years, it was only the file audit that alerted the principal to the problems.

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