Our Quality Assurance team
Our Quality Assurance team conducts quality assurance reviews called quality audits and compliance checks.
A quality audit is conducted by legal quality auditors. They determine whether a practitioner’s files meet our practice standards.
A compliance check is conducted by compliance officers to ensure that funding requirements are satisfied, as per our compliance terms and conditions.
A practitioner’s files may be quality audited, compliance checked or both.
We use a graduated assessment to determine the outcome after the review.
Who do we review?
All panel practitioners may be subject to a quality assurance review. We may randomly select a practitioner or we may apply a risk assessment. A risk assessment may consider the practitioner and/or firm’s:
- volume of work and case costs
- other factors such as complaints, compliance history, and the outcome of previous quality assurance reviews.
The quality assurance review process
When do quality assurance reviews happen?
We conduct quality assurance reviews throughout the year. If you are selected, you will be contacted by the Quality Assurance team and be given information to understand the quality assurance review procedure, what information you need to provide and how, as who to contact if you have any questions during the quality assurance review process.
Tips for your quality assurance review
We understand that some practitioners may be anxious about a quality assurance review. This checklist has been developed to help practitioners understand our expectations:
- Files are submitted on time to avoid a failed review. Try to upload a file as soon as reasonable so that any issues are identified early and we can assist you in advance of the deadline.
- Files are presented in logical order (eg chronologically).
- Practitioner’s funding guideline assessments are file noted, where required.
- All relevant documents and reports are included in the file.
- Separate files are kept for separate matters this means one file per grant of legal assistance.
- Conflict checks are documented on the files.
- File notes are legible.
- Client instructions, including personal history relevant to the matter, are documented on the file.
- Advice to the client is recorded on the file.
- Evidence of a final outcome letter to clients are on file.
- All claims are evidenced by invoices, fee slips etc.
- Contact our Quality Assurance team if you have any questions ahead of the file submission date.
Submitting your files
Practitioners who are selected for Quality Assurance Review are asked to submit an electronic version of their files using Sharepoint, VLA’s secure file sharing portal. When a practitioner is notified that their files will be reviewed, the practitioner is given access to Sharepoint. The practitioner will then have a reasonable period in which to upload their files.
Practitioners who maintain hardcopy files are asked to scan and upload an electronic copy of their client’s files. Where files are held electronically or in a mixed format, we recommend that the practitioner contact their file management program Administrator as soon as possible for assistance in extracting a copy of their electronic files.
The file uploaded to Sharepoint must be presented in a logical manner so that the Quality Assurance team can understand the order in which the file’s documents are to be viewed. For example, where the file is uploaded as a series of documents, the documents should be named or numbered in such a way that the legal quality auditor or compliance officer can easily determine how the file is to be viewed.
If you have any questions about using Sharepoint and uploading your files please contact the Quality Assurance team. The relevant contact person will be set out in your notification letter.
Findings and quality monitoring outcomes
Once we have reviewed your files, the Quality Assurance team will provide you with a record of our findings and a graded outcome. Where your files have been audited, we will assign an audit outcome category (AOC). We will assign a compliance outcome category (COC) where your files have been compliance checked.
Outcomes are based on the individual and collective assessment of the files reviewed. Our findings and outcomes are designed to educate the practitioner on the issues identified. We may also apply other quality monitoring outcomes proportionate to the issues identified. While we use education as the primary method of improving quality and compliance, our outcomes are flexible to allow us to respond appropriately to the specific issues in each case.
Nil or compliment in recognition for high quality standard.
We will issue recommendation(s) and may include required improvements and education/training.
Significant improvements required
We will issue recommendation(s) and will include required improvements and education/training.
Significant quality deficits
Issue quality improvement plan.
Schedule follow-up quality assurance review.
Referral to our director of Legal Practice.
Funding requirements have been substantively met. The practitioner is commended for their commitment to meeting their compliance requirements.
Funding requirements have been substantively met. Where issues are identified they are not serious or systemic. The practitioner is to consider our findings to understand what improvements are required.
Funding requirements have not been substantively met. The practitioner must immediately make the necessary improvements to meet VLA’s compliance requirements. A follow-up compliance check may be scheduled.
Funding requirements have not been substantively met. We have identified serious and/or systemic non-compliance. A follow up compliance check may be scheduled and/or another quality monitoring outcome applied as appropriate.
Your opportunity to respond
A practitioner has an opportunity to respond to the findings and graded outcome of their quality assurance review prior to the conclusion of the process.
We conduct quality assurance reviews on the basis that all relevant material is in the file provided to us. It is important that complete files are provided to us as we are not required to revisit our findings or graded outcome if a practitioner has not provided all relevant information.
How do we recognise high-quality service?
We are committed to acknowledging examples of high-quality service. We will acknowledge this in our findings reports. We may also ask a practitioner to profile a summary of their quality assurance review through our publications such as Legal Aid .
See Section 29A panels to download the Practice Standards, Compliance terms and conditions and other schedules of the panel deed.
For step-by-step guides to help use the most common functions in ATLAS, see ATLAS user .
If you have been selected for quality assurance review and have any questions or need assistance, please contact the officer on your notification letter.
If you have questions about our Practice Standards, please contact our legal quality auditors via email to email@example.com or phone (03) 9606 5364.
If you have questions about our compliance terms and conditions, please contact our compliance officers via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone on (03) 9606 5364.
Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.
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Reviewed 06 February 2023