Posted by Nicola Radcliffe, Associate
The effects of Law Society Accreditation Schemes
These schemes are intended to increase transparency and reduce professional negligence, but do the schemes really work?
The Law Society has recently launched a Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme which follows the Conveyancing Quality Scheme launched in 2010 and a number of other formal accreditations covering a variety of legal practice areas. Following changes to the law which allow businesses other than traditional law firms to provide legal services, concerns have been raised about the industry becoming de-skilled. High volume practice areas can become a conveyor belt of cases with the company focusing on profit rather than client service.
The intention of the schemes
Even if a client chooses to pay less for their legal services, and therefore is likely to have lower expectations in respect of the client care they will receive, nobody should expect to fall victim to professional negligence. The Law Society accreditation schemes are intended to promote best practice in the legal services industry, reducing mistakes and therefore bringing down the number of professional negligence claims against advisers.
The Law Society accreditation schemes each carry a recognisable accreditation stamp for clients to look out for when choosing their adviser and all accredited firms are listed on the Law Society website.
Advice to clients
Regardless of the accreditation stamp, clients should still choose carefully – being accredited is only one indicator of the organisation’s quality and standards and will not be able to prevent an adviser from delivering the advice negligently.
Whilst the schemes are intended to filter out those firms who do not demonstrate a commitment to delivering the highest level of customer services and sound legal advice, a huge number of factors can lead to mistakes being made. Common slip-ups include giving generic and unspecific advice, making serious drafting errors, lack of supervision or simply trying to handle too many cases at once leading to missed deadlines or worse.
Statistics published in 2013 reveal that judges in the High Court spend nearly 15% of their time dealing with professional negligence claims against solicitors compared with just 6% of their time dealing with claims against all other professionals.
If you think that your legal matter has been mishandled it is important to take advice, please contact our Professional Negligence Team on 0800 051 8057 who can investigate further for you and advise you on any potential claim.
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