WIQS update from the Law Society

In February 2014 the first firms were accredited to the Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS). Nearly three years later, WIQS has a diverse range of over 180 private client firms from across England and Wales.

The aim of the scheme is to set client service standards to ensure transparency in process, costs and communications, outlining required practices for will drafting, probate and estate administration which helps to address common risks, errors and inconsistencies that might arise in delivering advice.

The scheme is underpinned by the Wills and Inheritance Protocol which was written by practicing private client solicitors with input from a number of local law societies as well as members of the wills and equity and private client committees of the Law Society.

This extensive input from all areas of the professional has meant that accredited firms are more able to protect their reputation by using a wide range of standardised processes and procedures to both recognise and also reduce risks. In some cases firms have amended existing organisational policies or drafted new ones to meet the requirements of the scheme. This means that firms are able to reassure clients and potential clients that a WIQS accredited firm will be able to give them the information they need to understand the process, options, costs and timescales from the outset. The scheme also looks to help to remove barriers and reduce complaints by educating clients about the key aspects of purchasing wills and inheritance advice and what to expect throughout the whole process.

The scheme is about ensuring consistency of service by member firms. But it is also about helping those member firms position themselves in their local market. Amongst other things when firms are accredited they are able to use the WIQS logo for their marketing and promotional activities and they are tagged on the Law Society Find A Solicitor website. And with nearly 20,000 searches taking place every month for wills and probate solicitors, it is becoming really important for firms to be able to showcase their skills and expertise to their local communities by using WIQS.

WIQS is also starting to link with other stakeholders. Earlier this year the Law Society attended The Alzheimer’s Show helping to facilitate the provision of free legal advice for show attendees. During the two days of the show, seven solicitors from five different WIQS practices provided confidential one to one advice on a range of subjects including will drafting, advance care planning, LPAs, care home funding and issues around court of protection for those with dementia and their carers. In total 50 one to one advice sessions were held as well as numerous conversations with visitors who were interested in obtaining further information or advice. The event provided a real showcase for WIQS member firms to such an extent that the organizers have asked that WIQS provide the same facility again return next year for both the London and Manchester events.

The WIQS team is also looking to run a couple of webinars in early 2017 for member firms. The first will be on how firms can more effectively harness the use of digital marketing in their client acquisition strategy and in the second, in conjunction with the National Cyber Crime Unit, part of the National Crime Agency, will be focused on how firms can protect themselves from the growing threat of cyber crime.

Paul Saunders of compliance specialists Legal Eye Ltd comments “Legal eye are a big supporter of the WIQS, we consider it is essential that firms have quality standards that are achieved but more importantly they are used for the benefit of the firm. Done properly any standard can both improve the profitability of the firm and the volume of cases that can safely be handled. A secondary benefit should be that the firm achieved the badge that will reassure the public and insurers that the job is done properly.”

To understand how your firm could benefit from WIQS visit http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/accreditation/wills-inheritance-quality/

  CASE STUDY 

Osborns Legal Limited

19 Wynnstay Road, Colwyn Bay, Conwy. LL29 8NB. 01492 530329

Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme

Accredited by the Law Society

After a rigorous assessment process, Osborns Legal Limited was accredited by the Law Society as a member of the Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS) in February 2014. We are at present making application for our third year as an accredited member of the scheme. Being involved with WIQS has helped us to better understand the processes involved in providing our clients with up to date advice on will drafting, probate and estate administration. The on-going mandatory training that comes with WIQS accreditation ensures that we follow best practice procedures to meet the highest standards of technical expertise and client service in providing tailored wills and probate advice to our clients.

The WIQS client charter demonstrates to clients that we understand the options available to them and therefore offer best advice to meet their needs. We communicate with our clients using plain English, (and Welsh if required!) By doing this we can minimise the use of legal terminology in our communication with clients. From outset we inform clients of the estimated cost and how long the matter is likely to take. If we find that any of this information changes during the course of a matter we inform our clients immediately.

The Law Society will only offer WIQS accreditation to solicitors who are regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority. Clients can therefore rest assured that their business is being dealt with professionally and their interests are protected by external regulation.

Over the past couple of years we have seen some increase in our business in the areas of will drafting, probate and estate administration. We believe that by being accredited as a WIQS practice has contributed to this success.

In addition to holding WIQS accreditation Osborns Legal Limited is also accredited with the Conveyancing Quality Scheme and Lexcel. Both of these awards are supported by the Law Society and the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.

We are looking forward to our third successive year as a WIQS accredited practice and hope to improve on the success we have enjoyed over the past two years.

David Edwards

Practice Manager

22 December 2016

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