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Steps toward a robust governance policy
Blog //05-01-2024

Steps toward a robust governance policy

As a law firm, you may have a good governance policy in place already. But is it robust enough? With the constant changes in regulatory requirements, technology, and market landscape, it’s necessary to revisit and revamp your governance procedures to ensure they are fit for purpose. See the steps law firms should take to go from having good governance to having a robust governance policy.

Identifying the key risks

The first step towards building an effective governance policy is to identify the key risks that could potentially affect your firm. This includes assessing operational, financial, legal, and reputational risks as well as the risks that arise from your client interactions. Regardless of the size of your practice, it’s important to document potential risk areas and ensure you have adequate procedures in place to mitigate them.

Identifying risks is an ongoing process, not a one-time activity. Regularly review and update your risk register, ensuring it accurately reflects your current operation plan. This process should involve all stakeholders, including risk management teams, partners, associates, and support staff, as each can provide a unique perspective on potential vulnerabilities. It's equally important to consider external factors such as changes in legislation, economic conditions, and client expectations.

Implementing compliance measures

Maintaining compliance with regulatory requirements such as UK GDPR and SRA guidelines is a crucial reason to improve your firm's governance policy and an element that 77% of firms see as a significant challenge. This helps protect your business from reputational and financial risks, as well as avoiding penalties from regulatory bodies. However, emphasis should also be placed on ensuring that compliance measures are not detrimental to client experience or firm operations.

To strike a balance between compliance and operational efficiency, it's important to embed compliance procedures into everyday activities, rather than treating them as separate, cumbersome tasks. Ensure the processes are clear, understandable, and easily accessible to all staff members.

Utilising the tools at your disposal designed to seamlessly lock into everyday operations can help ensure compliance. Advanced's time capture software, Carpe Diem provides OCG modules can help ensure adherence to client billing rules and outside counsel guidelines, helping to help firms stay compliant by, monitoring specific details such as how many billable hours are recorded.

Maintaining data security

In an era where cybercrime is constantly on the rise, concerning 85% of firms, it’s essential to have a robust data security framework. Beyond having a secure IT system, firms should also ensure that the security of data is understood by all staff, and that security protocols are in place to prevent unauthorised access or data loss.

Cyber-attacks are one of the biggest challenges for firms, with data being such a valuable asset, breaches can result in severe damage to firm reputation and finances. Using software partners to help secure your data while improving the way you work is the first step to security peace of mind. Document management software like NetDocuments can help your firm maintain the confidentiality of sensitive data while streamlining your work processes. Compliance is built in to ensure client data is secure and workflows service clients accurately.

Monitoring performance

Finally, it’s crucial to regularly monitor your firm's performance against its policies and procedures. This not only allows you to identify opportunities for improvement, but also maintain a proactive approach to risk management and compliance.

A lack of insights into your firm’s performance and fee earner daily operations can make it difficult to successfully monitor your firm. Advanced's time capture software, Carpe Diem helps provide an overview of your fee earners, knowing who is working on what, when and for how long, allowing you to build a better picture of the day to day and overall firm performance. With secure logins and additional measures to ensure compliance and security, let your governance policy rest comfortably within your day-to-day operations.

A robust governance policy is essential for any law firm looking to maintain a strong reputation, avoid financial penalties, and retain its clients’ trust. It’s critical to identify potential risks, implement compliance measures, ensure data security, and monitor performance on an ongoing basis. Stay ahead of the curve in today's changing regulatory landscape and provide clients with the peace of mind that they deserve.

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