The FAQ’s cover the following areas;
LAW9000 - Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to achieve LAW9000 Certification?
This depends on a number of factors – how big the practice is, whether or not it has existing written policies and procedures and the number of people in the practice who require education and training to make it happen. Most importantly the whole process needs strong and visible support from the owners of the firm and a champion in the practice.
One way of viewing LAW9000 is as a journey. Along the way you will have the opportunity to review what you do, establish the best way to work and will begin to see savings and efficiencies in the way that work happens.
Some firms complete the process up to accreditation in 8 – 12 months – however others extend it to up to 2 years – as they are more complex and also they find that the more they do the more they learn.
Firms generally find that commencing with the LAW9000 course helps as it sets out the framework in a strategic or overall perspective and this is of great benefit on the journey.
The next step is to have a process for preparing a list of policies and procedures which capture how work is carried out in the firm. This is an important step as the auditors review the written policies and compare with the actual practice to ensure that they are consistent.
How does the process start?
LAW9000 Framework - The first step is to obtain a copy of the LAW9000 Framework which is available from the SAI Global on line bookshop.
LAW9000 Training Course - The next step is to undertake the LAW9000 training course. This explains the rationale behind the Framework and also how to make it relevant to our work place.
The course also gives you the skills to craft policies and procedure in a succinct and relevant fashion, how to approach change in the workplace and an insight into what the SAI Global Auditors are looking for when they visit you. On the course you may meet people from firms that have achieved LAW9000 and hear about their experience first-hand.
Gap Analysis - Once you are confident of the Framework and your own firm’s documentation and procedures you can do a Gap Analysis. This is like a trial audit which you carry out in order to illustrate where your business needs to do some more work.
It is a very effective working tool and firms nearly always find that their won performance improves significantly as they prepare for the audit and generally remains up after the audit is completed.
Prior to any external audit process, the SAI Global auditors will attend your office to conduct a Gap Analysis against the Standard.
This analysis provides useful feedback on whether your policies and procedures are in line with the Law9000 Standard; the end result is a greater certainty for when you are ready to commence the Certificate audit process.
Many firms find that thinking about LAW9000 as a journey as much as a destination is a useful approach. They recount that one of the benefits they notice whilst on the journey is that they begin to become more efficient, the level of wasted resources declines and there is more certainty and consistency in how work is done across the office(s). This leads to increased profitability.
SAI Global has produced an outline of the process and what you need to do at each step and this is attached for your reference.
How do I sell the message within the firm?
One of the benefits of the implementing the Framework is how it can transform everyone’s work.
The process of recording what everyone does and how they do it as a first step in preparing policies and procedures provides the opportunity to paint a big picture of what is going on in the firm.
That way everyone can see where they fit in.
Firms that have achieved the Certification say that work becomes more consistent, it is easier to train new staff and there are processes in place to agree on how things are done.
When do I know that we are ready for the audit?
The best way to see if you are ready for an Audit is to compare your current situation to that on the initial Gap Analysis.
The LAW9000 training will help you to develop the analytical skills that will help in completing this second review.
If you have used an external LAW9000 consultant they will also be able to help you to address the aspects of your practice that were identified in the Gap Analysis as needing attention.
How much writing etc do I need to do?
This depends on how you record your policies and procedures. One of the important aspects of LAW9000 is that the way you do things is documented and processes are carried out in accordance with this documentation.
A good rule to remember is that “Less is more”.
The auditors are not looking for volumes of writing – just a record of how you work. This can be a text or process diagrams – but is should be up to date and reviewed regularly.
Some useful tips would include using diagrams, workflows, colouring coding, pictures etc as much as possible to reinforce the message and also to provide other ways of communicating the message.
Policy and procedure documentation should be consistent with the LAW9000 Framework - however it is written in your own style and should reflect the particular approach that you take with your work.
How many people need to be involved?
Everyone should be involved – at least to the extent that they are aware of why LAW9000 is being introduced and the expected benefits that will result. It is important that everyone in the firm participates in an initial internal training program that explains the framework, how certification works and what the results for other business have been.
Our experience shows that the LAW9000 process works best when it is supported by a sponsor from amongst the owners of the business and a champion from within the management team.
A sponsor provides space within the business for the process to occur – and gives it the recognition and support that it requires. A champion is able to remove roadblocks and undertake liaison between various parties.
Firms generally find that as they work through the preparation there is a need to amend or modify how procedures are carried out.
Changing the way things are done can result in uncertainty and resistance.
A champion, someone with formal authority in the firm, can assist by facilitating communication and resolution of problems caused by this change.
What difference does it make?
Firms that have achieved certification report growth, higher profits, improved efficiency and reduced waste.
Research undertaken by Dr Christine Parker from Melbourne University also shows that the level of Professional Indemnity claims is lower for firms that have undertaken the self-assessment /gap analysis that is part of the process of preparation for certification.
Craig Osborne, Managing Partner for RMB Lawyers, the first firm to be certified speaks about the process and the benefits for the business in the attached case study prepared by SAI Global. In this study Craig identified that the firm is now better placed to deal with change and managed growth. It has become a cornerstone for growth and improvement.
LAW9000 provides a framework for you to review and improve your business.
It is recognised nationally and is part of the ISO 9000 framework – an internationally recognised standard that gives you a profile and a point of difference in a crowded market.
Need more information?
QL is a membership organisation and we are ready to assist you in any way we can.
Consultants – Advisors
If you would like to discuss the how, what, why and where of LAW9000 we have a referral bank of consultants and “trusted advisors” who can help you to solve some of the problems that are faced by practitioners juggling legal practice with business management.
Visit LAW9000 Certified Firm
We can also assist by arranging a visit to a LAW9000 certified firm to see how they have achieved their accreditation.
QL also can provide a mentor (someone with hands on experience of the process) who works through specific concerns about compliance and preparing for audits as well as documentation etc.
Need More Help?
If you would like further information please send us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 02 99657005 and we will be happy to assist you.