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Practice audits or reviews

Practice reviews are audits of incorporated legal practices that review their management systems comprehensively or that review discrete aspects of their management systems (their supervisory arrangements, say, or their billing practices) against the professional obligations owed by the firm and/or its staff.

The reviews by their very nature are a more resource intensive exercise than web-based surveys both from our point of view and for the law firms subject to review. We envisage accordingly conducting them only on an ‘as needs’ basis. For example, if we have received a complaint or information or made a risk-assessment that justifies a reasonable suspicion that the firm or some aspects of its practice fall short of expectation.

They comprise a tailor-made combination of some or all the following kinds of activities:

  • web-based surveys (ethics checks for law firms)
  • traditional desk-top policy and procedure reviews
  • detailed analyses of the firms’ complaints history, including detailed analyses of the investigation files held by the Commission
  • interviews with legal practitioner directors, supervisors and managers
  • interviews with and/or focus groups of individual employees ‘down the line’
  • interviews with and/or focus groups of clients, including but not only clients who have lodged complaints with the Commission
  • interviews with third parties including, for example, practitioners from other law firms that have regular dealings with the law firm subject to audit
  • reviews of in-house complaints registers and selected or randomly selected client files and bills
  • client satisfaction surveys, and
  • mystery or ‘shadow’ shopping - having real or pretend consumers deal with the firm and behave exactly as a genuine client might behave and asking them to report their experience - and similarly mystery complaints.

A practice review may take several days to complete and may take longer depending on the size of the firm subject to audit and the nature and complexity of the matters under review.

We will prepare a draft audit report once a review is completed which will detail the findings and include recommendations for what further action, if any, the legal practitioner directors should take to remedy any of the ILPs systems that require improvement. We will require the firm’s legal practitioner director(s) to respond to the draft report and we will then review the response and complete the final the audit report.

Last reviewed
11 November 2013
Last updated
11 November 2013

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