Lexcel is a standard targeted at legal practices and departments, which looks to distinguish services, sustain regulatory compliance and improve profitability.

While for many businesses who follow a standard is seen as being an onerous task that doesn’t aid the business, the obtaining of and maintaining a standard provides benefits for an organisation.

Productivity is, and has been for many years, the bug bear of British businesses . But a standard when used properly will enhance efficiency, lead to improved productivity and a better customer experience.

Lexcel should be seen as a benefit not as a drag, though bad usage of the standard and the processes designed does mean that it can easily become one. It shouldn’t be seen merely as a tick box, after all do your customers know what the standard means? Put in place and followed Lexcel can and will enhance Team Members engagement and lead to a higher overall customer satisfaction.

Some readers may well still use the word client as opposed to customer, staff as opposed to Team Members. Law firms need to adapt and move out of the silo of Partners v others. Lexcel can develop that process so that the customer obtains the outcome that they desire. Technical ability is a given. Outcomes are not.

Lexcel adoption should be at the forefront of any law firm’s thinking. The way in which customers buy legal services is changing and this in turn will lead to firms having to adapt to how they offer the services requested by those customers. Lexcel like ISO 9001:2015 very much forces the management (Partners) to lead change.

Like ISO 9001:2015 the format of Lexcel in its structure follows a similar pattern. There is very much an argument to have both. After all, more customers of law firms will know of or actually use ISO standards. Far more than those who have heard of Lexcel. But sticking with this standard can be used as a marketing tool to customers who may well require a standard that they can audit against. 

Lexcel drives management to consider 7 key elements that while seeming to be obvious are often overlooked or not more critically used. Importantly Lexcel does bring with it processes to change the entire firm and its outlook.

However, it should not just be obtained and become a once a year feature of the office structure with a consultant rolled out for the monitoring visit. 

Recently while reviewing a firm who wished me to undertake an audit , and who happened to be a Lexcel certified firm, I was astounded to discover that the client care letter to clients still referred to a number of key areas of funding and recovery as still being in force even though these were phased out in April 2013. The audit was in November 2022 so no excuse really.

One must then question how in depth do they independently audit but also how they look at the “manual” review and change it with the team as a whole. 

Choosing Lexcel as a standard isn’t an undertaking to be taken lightly. But choosing the right partner either for implementation or independent auditor is key. By doing that you will ensure that Lexcel becomes a worthwhile aspect of your firm where customers are at the forefront of decisions made and how the Team Members operate.

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Will Whawell has over 30 years’ experience in legal costs. He is a Legal Project Practitioner (IILPM), a Lead Auditor ISO 9001:2015 (IRCA) as well as an internal ISO 27001 auditor. He is a Lexcel consultant and adviser to several alternative funding providers in the UK on legal costs and funding matters.

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This standard looks to distinguish services, sustain regulatory compliance and improve profitability.

Will Whawell
Will Whawell
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