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The growing popularity of ISO certification in the legal sector

19 March 2024
5-minute read

Join NQA Technical and Projects Manager Judith Hargreaves as she outlines why ISO certification is becoming more popular in the famously regulated legal sector.

Keep reading to understand which standards can help your law firm excel.

The legal sector is a well-respected – and quite rightly, a heavily regulated industry.
From a consumer perspective, it often seems that seeking legal advice is a complex, confusing and potentially expensive process.

Search engines can provide hundreds of answers to your questions, spanning employment, family matters and entering a claim for damages, but is there any certainty around the accuracy of that free advice?
So, how can your law firm stand out from the crowd? The answer lies in ISO certification.

The purpose of ISO certification in the legal sector

Let’s start with the example of the UK. In the UK, every law firm must follow numerous regulations, including:

  • Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)

  • Legal Ombudsman (LO)

  • Bar Standards Board (BSB)

These all come with fees, making some law firms ponder the following question --> "Given the high cost of insurance, regulatory requirements and mandated fees, why should we pay another fee to certify our ISO management system?".

The reason is simple. Even if you already have an internal compliance team auditing files and service agreements, a third-party certification body (like NQA) to carry out ISO audits adds a layer of impartiality, competence and consistency.

Discover why you should choose an accredited ISO certification body like NQA in our recent blog.

The legal sector and ensuring high-level quality

ISO 9001 (Quality Management) is a recognised international standard that demonstrates an additional layer of responsibility to the client.

The standard is also an accountability piece involving everyone in your law firm. All members of the firm – from directors to colleagues without professional legal registrations – are included in the audit. Their input is often critical in assessing the effectiveness of your management system processes and procedures.

It’s worth noting that many of the larger law firms operate in several countries where jurisdictional requirements differ. However, the ISO 9001 standard framework remains the same – no matter the company, country or culture. This means that the policies and objectives you create for your quality management system must be the same for all offices in every corner of the world. 

The legal sector, the environment and sustainability

Governments and the media are putting pressure on businesses to go green – and law firms are no different.

With ISO 14001 (Environmental Management) and ISO 50001 (Energy Management) certifications, your law firm can prove its commitment to the planet by implementing best practices aimed at:

  • Reducing your carbon footprint

  • Minimising waste generation

  • Conserving finite resources

The result? Bolstered reputation for your law firm, enhanced efficiency (and therefore cost-savings), not to mention the possibility of attracting environmentally concerned clients!

For businesses dedicated to carbon neutrality, NQA recommends our PAS 2060 certification page.

The legal sector and securing client information

Before the shift to digitisation, law firms faced various threats to their physical documents, including physical damage (e.g. caused by spills and tears), loss, theft, deterioration and limited accessibility.

While physical documentation still exists, the shift to a paperless system has created a new class of threats, including cyberattacks.

All data held by law firms is important, with an unauthorised user obtaining information secured by lawyer-client privilege potentially devastating your company.

Standards like ISO 27001 (Information Security Management) and ISO 27701 (Privacy Information Management) provide confidence that your law firm puts confidentiality, integrity and availability as a top priority.

The legal sector and keeping colleagues healthy

All businesses must look after their people, including law firms.

Focusing attention on employee health and safety can be even more vital in the legal sector – an industry known for stress, burnout and substance issues.

While most countries have laws and regulations in place to protect employees, standards like ISO 45001 (Health & Safety Management) and ISO 45003 (Psychological Health & Safety Management) prove that your law firm implements another layer of compliance.

An ISO 45001 certification audit requires:

  • Your law firm to illustrate how you consult with colleagues

  • An interview with the person legally responsible for health and safety

  • A demonstration of the approach to health and safety risk assessments

By implementing the ISO 45001 framework, your law firm highlights its care commitment to your team, clients and visitors.

A summary of ISO standards for the legal sector

As we have discussed, various ISO standards that apply to the legal sector – ones that can benefit your law firm in a number of ways.

NQA delivers valuable resources and events to empower your company through its certification journey. Stay informed by following NQA Global on LinkedIn and joining our mailing list!

Final thoughts from NQA

Reputation is king in the legal sector, with client trust and confidence being the key to success.

Implementing and certifying your ISO framework can help prove that you know the law and its application. After all, ISO is the common language and expectation of the business world – and so by getting certified, your law firm can get ahead of the curve.

Interested in learning more about ISO standards offered by NQA? Visit our certification page.

Speak to an expert about your ISO certification options. Get in touch with our team now.