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Communication – Is your practice up to scratch?

Legal practice directors of incorporated legal practices are required to ensure they have appropriate management systems in place, but the QLS Ethics and Practice Centre recommends all practices (whether ILP, sole trader or partnership) have appropriate management systems in place.1

There are 10 areas identified in which appropriate management systems ought to be implemented in order to comply with the Legal Profession Act 2007 (Qld). Providing for effective, timely and courteous communication is one of the 10 areas.

Communication failings are consistently found to be a cause of negligence claims and professional complaints against practitioners.

This month, we are highlighting resources to help you ensure you have appropriate management systems in your office in respect of practice communications. Keep a lookout on our QLS Solicitor Support LinkedIn Group for further posts.

We will look at:

  • What do we mean by the term ‘communication’ for the purposes of the second commandment?
  • What are the important elements of client communication and client care?
  • Have you clearly communicated to your staff your expectations, and provided adequate training, so they communicate effectively?
  • What are the important elements of communication with other legal practitioners or third parties? How should I address a colleague in written communications? Should I use informal language or emojis when communicating with colleagues?
  • How should I communicate with the court and its staff? Both in person and online.
  • How might my day-to-day business communication style vary from communication I use in court?
  • Can I record telephone conversations?
  • Do I need to respond to all communications and, if so, how quickly do I need to respond?
  • Should I have a client care policy?
  • How should I communicate to a client that their matter is finalised?

A communication policy within your practice might address such issues as service objectives and targets with respect to telephone responses or other communication response times.

Who may sign off on correspondence and parameters around a staff’s delegation authority (that is, who should have authority to provide an undertaking on behalf of your practice?). What systems do you have in place to prevent and/or address complaints? Are you pro-actively or reactively managing your practice’s communications? How do communicate a change in responsible file author roles to your clients or a change in scope or fee estimate?

The Practice Advisory Service is a complimentary service for sole/micro practices across Queensland and can assist you with these queries. For more information or to book a practice visit to discuss these and other practice management issues, contact the QLS Ethics and Practice Centre on 07 3842 5843 or email ethics@qls.com.au.

Footnote
1 Legal Profession Act 2007 (Qld), s117(3).

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