LAW FIRMS both with and without QL certification welcomed last week’s merger of best practice schemes, saying the joint venture would encourage more lawyers to strive for external recognition of management procedures.
Lachlan Stonehouse, national manager for continuous improvement at Clayton Utz — the only national firm to boast a top-level QL rating — said the profession had been screaming out for a legally tailored version of ISO 9000 for sometime.
“ISO 9000 was developed from a manufacturing background, so I think we needed something specific. The management issues in law firms are totally unique,” he said.
With past experience revealing a paltry QL accreditation take-up rate amongst law firms, Stonehouse hoped an amalgamated product would help reverse muddled perceptions.
“Hopefully if the process is simplified, everyone will know to go to the one location to get accredited and won’t be so confused as to which scheme is most suitable,” he said.
A rise in cost would probably ensue from the more detailed scheme, Stonehouse estimated, before adding: “As a business driver you’d be foolish not to take it on. At the very least, it’s a simple way of measuring gaps and getting advice on what you need to do to improve.”
One of an overwhelming majority of firms — estimated to be approximately 98 per cent — to be currently operating without the QL stamp of approval is Acuiti Legal, whose CEO Anthony d’Arbon believes the new scheme is “terrific”.
“I like the concept of external recognition — it’s one more thing that can differentiate law firms,” he said.
D’Arbon confirmed he intended to closely examine the details of SAI’s program upon release in December. So long as the process didn’t consume “thousands of man hours” to complete, the likelihood of Acuiti jumping on board would be increased, he said.
“Joining a scheme like this is just like taking out an insurance policy. Logic flows that it’s worthwhile spending money to improve procedure.”