How Osprey helps law firms achieve the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) accreditation

Category: Blog, Practice Management, Staying Compliant 24th November 2022

The Law Society announced changes to the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) accreditation in early 2022 to “ensure we continue to champion the role of solicitors and their position at the heart of conveyancing.”

The improvements aim to help UK law firms implement a continuous improvement culture into their daily practices to enhance the quality of client service and practice management.

Legal software and optimising its use across a firm are central to effective continuous improvement and long-term success. Practice and case management software provides digital tools that help law firms meet compliance requirements and better serve clients without additional manual admin or resource.

Four legal software tools to help you achieve your CQS accreditation

We’ve highlighted how the four key areas of a practice and case management software (PCMS) can help law firms achieve their CQS accreditation. The list takes into consideration how the software can help you to meet specific criteria within the new CQS requirements, as well as how the required policies and procedures can be implemented generally across your firm using digital tools.

A centralised cloud platform

By centralising all your data and processes into one single platform you can improve supervision and control over ensuring all tasks are recorded and your team is staying on system. This makes it easier to identify errors to mitigate risk and enable security and protection for client data. Utilising an all-in-one cloud platform helps law firms to meet CQS requirements because:

  • You can meet data protection and GDPR requirements because you have tighter control of your data and security of the cloud
  • It’s easier to extract the right, accurate data you need to demonstrate the risk measures you have in place, client satisfaction, conflict handling, field reviews conducted, and much more  
  • It forms part of your business continuity plan. Employees can easily access the data and documents needed to continue progressing a transaction, from any device or location in the event of an unforeseen event or issue
  • Supervision of your team is easier because processes can be standardised and the case status clearly visible, key dates can be created and monitored, and performance data easily reported on

Automated workflows

Utilising workflows for your conveyancing transactions is the easiest way to standardise processes, so you have control over the requirements and tasks that need to be completed by each fee earner. For every documented procedure that’s required, you can build those tasks and actions into a workflow to give you and your management team peace of mind that the right data is collected, best practices are followed, and clients are updated. Automated workflows help you to meet CQS requirements because:

  • Processes, including client onboarding, can be standardised, and controlled in line with the procedures you create.
  • You can ensure each workflow includes pre-determined questionnaires which capture all data that is required at every stage.
  • They ensure a timely response to clients throughout a case. Reminders, prompts, and tasks can be set to ensure updates are communicated and not forgotten.
  • Compliance and client satisfaction tasks can be embedded into the workflows, so they form part of the fee earners’ daily workflow, rather than considered as an additional process.
  • They encourage employees to stay on the system, and utilise the data and tools within the software, so more control is provided to management for supervision and monitoring.

Client portal & app

PCMS provides a variety of client management tools, including client portals and apps, that help to improve the quality, efficiency, and consistency of a firm’s client service. Access to digital collaboration tools enables fee earners to meet the needs of their clients in a way that suits them. It doesn’t force your firm only to communicate digitally but enables options to meet the clients’ needs more effectively. Digital client management tools, including a client portal, helps you to meet CQS requirements because:

  • You can better meet clients’ expectations by improving the speed of updates, providing real-time data, and increasing transparency of the process.
  • The software increases the security and protection when sharing sensitive data. Easily send and share data and documents via a portal rather than in an email.
  • Online questionnaires help to capture the right data at the right time throughout the transaction. They also avoid data duplication to reduce errors.
  • Templated documents can be easily created, stored, and edited to ensure clients receive the right information, and it follows best practices detailed in the CQS requirements.
  • Client requirements, feedback, and reviews can easily be recorded, stored, and reported on in real-time.
  • Key dates can be set and shared with the client to set expectations and provide visibility of the transaction.

Reporting and business intelligence

Collating, monitoring, and analysing your firm’s data is simple when it’s centralised and accurate. The reporting tools can pull client, case, compliance, and financial data from across the system into the reports you need for ongoing monitoring, and to present to auditors. Reporting tools within your software help you to meet CQS requirements because:

  • They enable a 360-degree visibility of your firm and real-time supervision of your team. Reports can be scheduled and shared or visualised in interactive dashboards.
  • Real-time monitoring enables quicker corrective actions to avoid larger issues or problems.
  • They can collate the compliance data you need from your workflows, including client satisfaction and complaints information, so you can meet requirements.
  • Data is readily available so showcasing your continuous improvements, and risk management processes to auditors, is easy.

CQS requirements overlap with Lexcel 6.1

The changes applied to CQS in early 2022 now align with the seven-section Lexcel framework. This means, if you’re already accredited against Lexcel, you’ll already have met some of the Core Practice Management Standards (CPMS) that are required for CQS.

The seven CPMS are:

  1. Structure and strategy
  2. Financial management
  3. Information management
  4. People management
  5. Risk management
  6. Client care
  7. File and case management

Read our guide on achieving your Lexcel accreditation for a section-by-section breakdown of how Osprey Approach can help you achieve the requirements.

CQS Frequently Asked Questions

What is a CQS accreditation?

The Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) is The Law Society’s accreditation that is a recognised quality standard for residential conveyancing practices. CQS aims to minimise your practice’s risk of claims and protect your firm’s reputation. The quality mark shows clients and all parties involved in the property transaction that your firm is a trusted conveyancing practice.

How do I get CQS accredited?

  1. Check your firm’s eligibility for the CQS accreditation. You must be authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and be able to demonstrate compliance with the Conveyancing Protocol.
  2. Firms must familiarise themselves with the three core values, which are:
    • Members proactively and effectively manage risk and demonstrate behaviours that support and promote the integrity of CQS and the community;
    • Members demonstrate best practice and excellence in client care through robust practice management of residential conveyancing; and
    • Members demonstrate thorough knowledge and skill in handling conveyancing transactions
  3. Ensure you’re aware, and can implement, the updated Core Practice Management Standards (CPMS) that are required for CQS.
  4. Complete the required forms to apply for the CQS accreditation and pay the fee.
  5. Ensure all relevant people complete the required training.
  6. Be prepared for on-site visits that ensure firms are equipped and able to achieve the values of CQS.

What are the latest changes to CQS?

The Law Society updated the CQS Core Practice Management Standards (CPMS) in February 2022. Even if you were accredited before the changes were put in place, you need to ensure you comply with the updates. The changes made are following feedback the Law Society received and aim to better support practices by driving continuous improvement in best practice, client service, and practice management.