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THE TWELVE regional offices and 715 solicitors of Eversheds are to regularly check each other's response times to clients, quality of legal advice and conduct of case work in a bid to standardise procedures throughout the national firm.
The firm, which has evolved from 12 separate regional practices, each with its own set of standards and procedures, wants to unify its practices and win an Investors In People award.
Partner John Northam, appointed quality assurance director to implement the changes, said: "My task is to draw up a core standards manual, go around our 12 offices to explain it to people, and then set in motion the first set of reviews. It is very much a case of winning hearts and minds at the moment."
Northam, once the senior partner at Jaques & Lewis, the firm which became Eversheds' London office, said he understood that lawyers did not want the standards imposed on them. "If you want to implement this sort of thing, you have to take people with you."
The standards were being set after "intensive consultations" with other partners, he said. "This is a two way process. I am taking on board a lot of ideas that have been suggested to me."
The aim is to set core standards along the lines laid out in the Law Society's practice management standards.
This includes: arrangements for monitoring the number and type of cases taken by each fee earner; recording clients' instructions and the action to be taken; setting a minimum response time by letter and phone to clients; and regular reviews of the conduct of case work by fee earners not involved in the case.
Northam said that at least once a year fee earners from one regional office would review the conduct of casework by their colleagues in another regional office, as is the practice in accountancy firms.