Review Your File Opening Procedure

Last month we referred to the “health check” that you can complete within your firm and that a good place to start would be a review of your client care letter and Terms of Business. Had a great response and the free review of the client care letters and Terms of Business have been completed. If any other firms would like to take us up on this offer please email through to us.

The next area we would recommend that you review would be your file opening form / checklist. This can either be a hard copy that is placed on the case file or you may have an electronic copy as part of your case management system,

The form would include an area to confirm that a conflict of interest check has been completed. Most of the systems within law firms have the conflict of interest check as part of their file opening procedures. This may be part of your case management system and/or your accounts system. Ensure that you can go back and confirm that the check has been completed. A field within your CMS could confirm this or include it in your file opening form / checklist. When the check has been completed through your system/s, you then update the file opening form or checklist to confirm this. We will focus on conflict of interest in future editions but for now we will focus on the file opening form/checklist.

Other sections to include in your file opening form / checklist are:

  • A place to record undertakings
  • Risk Assessment (more detail below)
  • AML Procedures / client due diligence
  • Key Dates
  • Looking specifically at the Risk Assessment of a case when the file is opened – numerous factors need to be taken into account e.g. Anti Money Laundering factors and also Operational Risk.

There are standard policies available to grade the risk of cases but the type of questions to ask are:

  • How was the client introduced to the firm?
  • How much contact will you have with the client? (all by post, only meet with the client at the outset or regular contact with the client throughout the case?)
  • Value of the transaction?
  • Length of relationship with the client?
  • Capacity of the department – do you have sufficient capacity to deal with the case?
  • If you would like to discuss this with us or if you would like us to send you a copy of a risk assessment policy please contact Legal Eye at [email protected] / 079 2177 4548

For more information about Legal Eye Ltd you can visit the website here.

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