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). Compliance with statutory obligations for running a business, holding an appropriate practising certificate and professional indemnity insurance through to management of legal services provided by both professional and support staff in your law firm is one of the 10 areas.
All solicitors with the responsibility for a client’s matter (not just those with a principal practising certificate) must exercise reasonable supervision over staff (professional and support staff) involved in the delivery of those legal services.2 Failure to adequately supervise may lead to personal liability for failings of staff members.3
Appropriate supervision of practice and staff can provide quality assurance, higher levels of client satisfaction, more referrals, reduction of risks, and contribute to not only your own positive wellbeing but also that of your employees.
This month, we are highlighting resources to help you ensure you are adequately supervising your practice and your staff. Keep a lookout on our QLS Solicitor Support LinkedIn Group, and Instagram for further posts.
We will look at:
- What does ‘reasonable supervision’ mean?
- Does your practice have an adequate onboarding program for new employees?
- What does supervision look like for remote staff or multiple offices? Does an open-door policy work in a post-COVID-19 world?
- Effective elements of pro-active supervision.
- How do you properly delegate work?
- The importance of regular file audits to ensure firm procedures are being followed.
- Conducting a regular practice audit to identify areas for improvement/ compliance with statutory obligations.
- Use of regular management reporting tools to identify issues pre-emptively.
- Accountability partner/coach/mentor for a principal of practice who may be struggling with their role as a supervisor.
- Use of a locum to ensure adequate practice supervision and file supervision during periods of illness or holiday of professional staff.
Adequate supervision can be a driver for increased law firm profitability by reducing errors and the re-working of client work. This can also reduce claims, complaints, client dissatisfaction, and write-offs. Proactive supervisory strategies can reduce interruptions to a supervisor’s workflow – by scheduling regular individual and team meetings, and potential issues may be identified in file reviews before they manifest as a crisis event.
The Practice Advisory Service is a complimentary service for sole / micro practices across Queensland and can assist you with the above issues and other practice management queries. For further information or to book a practice visit contact the QLS Ethics and Practice Centre on 07 3842 5843 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meagan Liu is a Law Graduate at Queensland Law Society. This article has been approved by Grace van Baarle, Solicitor and Manager, QLS Ethics and Practice Centre.
1 Legal Profession Act 2007 (Qld) s117(3).
2 Australian Solicitors Conduct Rules 2012 (Qld) r37.1.
3 See Legal Services Commissioner v Duffield (LPC 005/07, 26 May, 2008).