On 25 November 2019, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) will launch its new regulatory model – but what does this mean for firms? In essence, it will allow solicitors greater flexibility in how they work. It will remove many prescriptive rules and take the burden off law firms, meaning their solicitors have freedom to use their own judgement to consider how they meet the SRA standards.
Some of the key changes include:
• Separate codes of conduct for firms and solicitors
• Simpler account rules
• The ability for a solicitor to carry out ‘nonreserved’ legal work from a business not regulated by a legal services regulator
• Allowing solicitors to provide reserved legal services on a freelance basis
The SRA sets high professional standards but by stripping away outdated rules and regulations it’s allowing solicitors flexibility to deliver services around clients. This brings a lot of potential for both firms and solicitors. The public will have access to a wider range of services, while still having the peace of mind that they are backed by the proper protections.
This means that solicitors and firms will change from a predominantly rule-based focus to a more outcome-based one. There will be a reduced list of principles and prescriptive rules that dictate how solicitors and firms must behave, while ensuring that the most important issues of protecting the public and their money remain at the forefront.
To be ready for November, firms will need to review their existing policies and processes and make sure that they are still relevant and valid. It will serve as a good time to question whether these are still in keeping with protecting the public and their money, as well as increasing efficiency, while ensuring the firm’s reputation is not compromised.
It’s not just reviewing and updating the policies that are in place that will need to be done. Firms will need to consider how employees will be trained on the new standards and regulations, and understand the impact this will have on risk and compliance processes. By changing the focus of the standards from rules to outcomes and principles-based, firms will need to build in periodic reviews of their policies. This will allow them to monitor these policies to check for effectiveness and appropriateness.
As always, Tikit is keeping up with industry changes and ensuring that P4W allows firms and solicitors to remain compliant.
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