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COLPability: Driving your firm towards full SRA Compliance

Getting started

COLPability Outline

COLPability is a compliance tool for firms regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to benchmark their compliance with the SRA Code of Conduct 2011 (Code of Conduct), with particular emphasis on complying with the Principles and attainment of the Outcomes.

Your attention is drawn to the Terms of Use relating to COLPability.

COLPability can be integral to a firm's compliance plan. It can be used in a variety of ways including:-

  • Aiding the Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP) in his/her duties in respect of Outcomes Focused Regulation (OFR).
  • Assessing the extent to which a firm is complying with the Principles and achieving the Outcomes.
  • Evidencing compliance with the following Outcomes:-
    • (7.2) you have effective systems and controls in place to achieve and comply with all Principles, rules and outcomes and other requirements of the Handbook,,
    • (7.3) you identify, monitor and manage risks to compliance with all the Principles, the rules and outcomes and other requirements of the Handbook... and take steps to address issues identified.
  • Analysing the systems and controls used by the firm in respect of each Principle and Outcome.
  • Giving high level overview of performance by traffic light scoring for each chapter of the Code and Outcome.
  • Providing gaps in respect of each area of non-compliance or area for improvement.
  • Evidencing continuous improvement by showing closure of Gaps and increased percentage of Outcomes showing "green" status.
  • Providing management information on SRA compliance and to help generate SRA reports.
  • Producing compliance template documents – firm's compliance plan, file review points scoring, complaints logs, risk management logs, marketing logs etc.

Trial Users

The 21 Day FREE Trial gives users the opportunity to see what COLPability can do; in particular they can review their firm's performance against selected Outcomes and produce COLPability reports. The majority of the Outcomes and the entirety COLPability documents are not available on the Trial version. If there are any issues which arise during the use of a Trial version then please email support@colpability.com

How COLPability Works

COLPability has the following key features which produce different levels of compliance information:-

  • Outcomes Assessment
  • Dashboard
  • Reports (Gaps, Outcomes & Additional Information)
  • Resources

Outcomes Assessment

COLPability assesses each Outcome by providing a list of questions in relation to each of the 89 Outcomes which are divided into (a) System/Control questions, and (b) Output questions. The responses to these questions generates a COLPability traffic light scoring which indicates compliance levels in respect of each Outcome. Gaps are generated in respect of each area where a positive response is not given with possible corrective action.

COLPability applies the same segregation of Outcomes as is found in the Code of Conduct – 4 compliance sectors (Client, Business, Regulator and Dealings with Others) which are then broken down into separate compliance areas.

There is no specific order in which the user needs to address which Outcomes to deal with first but it is suggested that each firm starts with a selection from each of the 4 areas (Client, Business, Regulator & Others) in order to achieve a balance – for example, the firm could start with;

Compliance Sector Outcomes
Client 1.2, 1.4, 1.10, 1.12, 2.1, 3.1, 4.1 and 5.3
Business 7.2, 7.6 and 7.8
Regulator 8.2 and 9.1
Others 11.2 and 12.2

These are the Outcomes which are made available to users of the Trial version of COLPability.

The questions for each Outcome are divided into 2 categories - System/Control questions and Output questions.

System/Control questions

These focus on the firm's systems and controls rather than specific attainment of any Outcomes. In addition to evidencing the adequacy or otherwise of a firm's systems and controls, the answers to these questions can help to establish a root cause analysis of any failures to achieve any Outcomes.

Output questions

These focus on what the firm is actually achieving in respect of each Outcome rather than focussing on the process. It is recognised that it is conceptually possible for a firm to have inadequate systems and controls yet still be able to evidence achievement with specific Outcomes (to the extent that they do not require specific systems/controls). As in the case of the system/control questions, users are given radio buttons to facilitate their answers which, in turn, either generate a request for the provision of evidence (if the answer is positive) or a gap (if negative).

Additional Information

For some Outcomes, there is a section which requests additional information on various matters (complaints, compliance with each of the 10 Principles etc). The purpose of these questions is to enable COLPability to record information which may be of assistance in compiling any annual SRA reports or to deal with any other requests for regulatory information which may arise from time to time. The information provided in these sections does not have any effect on COLPability traffic light scoring and does not generate any gaps in COLPability.

Off You Go

Dashboard link to Client CareClick on the Client Care section of the dashboard.

This will then navigate to a list of the 16 Outcomes relating to Client Care. Click on an Outcome you wish to assess performance in respect of. For example, Outcome 1.2 "Protecting clients' interests".

This will open up a screen with a full list of questions. Each question needs to be dealt with by clicking one of the alternative answers. COLPability suggests that you start with the systems & controls questions (on the left hand screen) and deal with each one in descending order.

Starting with the first system & control question "Does the firm have a process which identifies each client's objectives at the outset of each matter?". There are 2 possible answers:-

Dropdown for adding evidence to a questionIf a 'Yes' response is given, then there is the opportunity to add evidence as to the basis of that answer. This is to provide an audit trail of compliance and is more substantive than simple self-certification. Despite the clear audit and other related benefits of providing evidence in respect of each positive answer, it is not a COLPability requirement that evidence be inserted.

Question Gap shows when remedial action is requiredIf a 'No' response is given then a gap is generated with a suggested remedial action point. You should then answer each system & control question and, once done, move onto the output questions. When all the questions for the Outcome are completed you should then look at the traffic light score COLPability has generated.

If a question is not answered then the system will still generate an overall score but the firm will not be given credit for having the specific system/control the subject to the unanswered question. It is appreciated that many smaller firms will not require the complexity of the systems and controls which larger firms require. For this reason, the questions are broadly based enquiring as to the "process" a firm has in place.

The answer to each question (whether system/control or output) generates a score within COLPability in relation to each Outcome. The scoring system is not visible to the user.

Traffic Lights System

The responses for each Outcome generates a traffic light assessment based on red, amber and green.

Red
COLPability's assessment is that the Outcome has not been achieved. The firm should identify the gaps which are created in respect of the Outcome with a red score and identify and implement the requisite corrective action. Partially completed Outcome questions will remain on red until sufficient questions have been answered positively to move the assessment above the red status.
Amber
COLPability's assessment is that, whilst the Outcome is not achieved in full, the amount of corrective action required to attain compliance is not as great as for the red categorisation.
Green
COLPability's assessment is that this Outcome has been either broadly or fully achieved - there may still be some corrective action as shown by any gaps if not fully achieved.
Grey
This is the default categorisation in respect of any Outcomes where no assessment has been made.

COLPability's traffic light scoring can be used for each of the following:-

  • 89 Outcomes
  • Compliance Sectors

Further details are contained in the Dashboard section.

Dashboard

Main navigation link to the DashboardCOLPability displays in graphic form a high level overview of the firm's performance against the Outcomes both overall as well as in each stated sector. This enables the user to make a prompt assessment of the areas of OFR which require most attention. The dashboard assessment is updated when any data is inputted into COLPability and can be accessed by clicking on the Dashboard navigation button.

This is a good reporting tool for a COLP to provide to the firm's management given its self-explanatory graphical content. It also provides high level visibility to the COLP of areas of the firm's standards of compliance performance.

Dashboard contains the following data assessments:-

Graph

Dashboard graph showing % compliance across all OutcomesShowing % of green Outcomes achieved across all 89 Outcomes over a period of time. This provides a high level overview of attainment of green status over the time shown in the graph. It may show some "backsliding" if compliance performance drops in any areas.

Pie Chart

Dashboard compliance pie chartShowing overall segregation between the 4 coloured categories over all 89 Outcomes. Again, this is intended to be high level rather than to show performance in any specific area(s).

Sector Level Compliance

Which shows:-

Breakdown of compliance for each Compliance Area with number of Gaps highlightedNumber of Gaps in each separate compliance area. These are shown by a red number. If the user navigates through the numbered icon then a graphic shows the precise Gaps in that area.

Compliance Area Pie Charts. These provide more information as to overall compliance performance but broken down into each of the 12 Compliance Areas.

Further detail on performance in each of the 4 compliance sectors (Client, Business, Regulator, Others) can be obtained by clicking on either (i) the navigation buttons near the top of the Dashboard screen or (ii) the 4 sectors under the heading "Sector" on the left hand column.

If a more detailed view is required then the user can click on each of the 12 Compliance Areas in the centre column. This will show the same information as is shown by the Dashboard (graphs + pie charts) but for each Outcome within the compliance area selected.

COLPability Reports

The reports can be accessed by clicking on the Reports tab and then selecting from each of the 3 report categories. Data can be obtained showing performance at a certain date rather than just at present. The reports are easy to navigate and make use of the historical data COLPability retains.

The 3 categories of COLPability reports are:-

  • Gap Analysis Report
  • Outcome Compliance Report
  • Additional Information Report

Gap Analysis Report

This comprises 2 principal items of data; namely (a) Gaps in achievement of Outcomes, and (b) evidence of Gaps being closed as and when corrective action is taken and analysed via COLPability.

Gap Categorisation

COLPability has 3 Gap categories as follows:-

High priority

These are top priority Gaps which evidence either a clear regulatory breach or a serious shortcoming in either a system or an output. These Gaps are the most important for the firm to review and take any necessary remedial action. These need to be reviewed immediately they are identified.

Medium priority

These evidence potentially substantive shortcomings but may not need to be prioritised as important as those in the above category. They do, however, need to be reviewed within 45 days of them being identified. A large number of Medium priority Gaps could, however, be indicative of an endemic compliance failure on the part of the firm which requires immediate attention and even a regulatory notification.

Low priority

These are the less serious of gaps and need to be reviewed within 75 days of being identified. They are few in number.

These gap reports can produce the following information:-

Gap Progress Chart

Chart showing the progress of Gap closureThis shows the total number of Gaps over each of the 89 Outcomes at the dates shown on the graph. If Gaps are closed down then this is shown by a reducing number of Gaps over a given period. Conversely, an increased number of Gaps will be shown by a rising graph line.

Gap Analysis Report

This shows (i) all Gaps, (ii) potential corrective action, and (iii) their respective severity categorisation.

The data contained in the report can be refined as follows:-

Date

A drop down menu under the Box "Current Assessment" can select data at any date/time as highlighted in that menu.

Gap Category

Clicking on the 3 tickboxes select any/all of the 3 categories of Gaps.

Outcome Sector

Clicking on the Box "Show selected Outcomes" will give a choice of any or all of the 4 Compliance Areas.

PDF and Print options to download and save reportsCOLPability reports can be downloaded and saved in PDF format and can also be easily printed. There is an option to include the Gap Progress Graph in this report.

Outcome Compliance Report

Outcome Compliance Report with traffic light systemThese reports show how the firm is performing on an Outcome by Outcome basis.

By scrolling down, the scoring for each of the 89 Outcomes can be seen.

As in the case of the Gap reporting, COLPability enables user defined reports by selecting defined dates for compliance assessments as well as defined Compliance Sectors.

PDF reports can also be generated applying the above criteria ranges with an option to include Progress Charts in any such reports.

Additional Information Report

Additional information search on Principle or specific wordThis category of report has the following 2 search criteria:

Principles:

There is a drop down box for each of the 10 Principles which compiles any additional information stored on COLPability on each Principle.

Specific word search

COLPability enables the user to define their own search terms to generate any additional data held against any such search criteria.

COLPability Resources

COLPability's Resources provide a range of documents which users can adapt to their specific circumstances. These are either in Word or Excel format, are easy to download and each document has Guidance Notes.

These documents range from a Compliance Plan, to the firm's appointment of the COLP to compliance logs (risk management, complaint, marketing material etc) and a file review point scoring spreadsheet.

The range of COLPability's resources will be added to during each year and users will receive updates when any additions are made.

Queries

If you have any queries in connection with the operation of COLPability then please Contact us.

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What our users say

"Probably the most cost-effective purchase we've made in years." Partner, medium-sized commercial firm, South Wales

How much does COLPability cost?

Annual Standard User licence fee £475 plus VAT

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