At the recent Teal Annual Conference, I spoke to the delegates about Technology in Compliance. I’d like to pose some of the questions we talked about during the session. How would your firm answer?
How do your current systems and processes work for you?
As a firm, are you all working on the same system or is it a mix?
Are you confident that all your employees are using the same versions of documents such as your Client care letters and Terms of Business?
How often do you review your systems and processes?
The answers to the above questions are fairly self explanatory when it comes to assessing how effectively a firm is using technology to support their compliance function.
There are common themes for the majority of firms I meet. Firstly, there are still many firms that do not have a case management system (actually there are a lot) and who operate with a “S – Drive” where everyone can access and save documents. Secondly, there are those that have a mixture of different systems, and different levels of take up of those systems depending on the department. There are of course some firms that use their CMS to the best of their advantage. This takes a significant amount of work, but the firms that make the effort, reap the rewards. Personally, I would like to see compliance embedded into the IT systems and processes within all firms.
By investing in people, processes and systems it allows compliance to become second nature, providing an additional layer to internal risk management, and an audit trail if something were to happen.
In addition, it can also help increase profitability – so what is there not to like?
With so many different systems on the market, if you do not have a system, or are looking to change, how do you choose the right one for your firm? Here are some pointers:
Select the project team in-house – have a mix of staff covering support staff, fee earners, IT, management. You need to have a complete overview from all perspectives. Also ensure you include different disciplines, as each will have their own requirements.
Scope the list of features you must have, should have and would like to have. A project cannot always be completed in one hit, and taking a phased implementation approach is often more successful.
Do your research into providers or bring in an independent consultant who can assist. It is not a case of one size fits all.
Know your budget – there is a vast difference between “out the box” and custom built.
Shortlist the systems that you consider will assist you in your business and arrange a beauty parade.
Have a selection of staff at demonstrations.
Take your time to work through the pros and cons.
Consider the change management that will be needed within the firm to implement the new system.
As a starter for ten, here are some of the features which you should consider embedding into your systems:
I am strongly of the view that we can effectively use technology within our compliance systems to minimise the risks involved of running a law firm. Why make things more difficult for yourselves, your firm, your staff, and your clients than they need to be!
Teal Compliance regularly advises law firms with reviews of their IT system requirements. If we can help your firm, we are always happy to have a free initial chat. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org