We regularly report upon the actions of the SRA here on our blog, and it’s fair to say that there have been plenty of instances where the SRA has cracked down upon non-compliant law firms in the last few months. However, there’s a growing fear that – despite the best efforts of the SRA – incidents of non-compliance aren’t being reduced, but in actual fact they may even be growing in prevalence.
In the modern world, all services have a need to move with the times, and everyone is expected to embrace new technology in an effort to heighten standards. The UK legal sector is no different, and perhaps that is the thinking behind the recent plans of the Law Society and the SRA, as they’ve both made moves to implement new online tools for law firms to make use of.
We’ve spoken before about the need to cultivate high standards within the conveyancing services of your law firm, and we’ve already taken the opportunity to outline some of the habits – like effective communication – that you should be trying to prioritise. However, we previously majored upon approaches such as this, rather than investigating the more basic matter of integrity, but that doesn’t mean that this latter concern isn’t important, because, rest assured, it is.
These days, the legal compliance of all law firms and solicitors is heavily regulated by the SRA, and the penalties that can be imposed upon non-compliant firms are frequently severe. Because of this, there is a natural desire to remain within the rules at all times; integrity and a good reputation is the life-blood of a legal firm after all, and a tarnished image can prove to be disastrous, even if a legal firm survives a brush with the SRA.
Compliance has become a favourite buzzword of the law industry. The Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA) is particularly fond of it, and the establishment of the roles of COLP and COFA are a clear reflection of this. In the words of the SRA itself, the COLP and COFA “should be champions of risk management and compliance within a firm”; hardly a role to be undertaken lightly. However, the actual nature and responsibility of these roles can be deeply confusing, which is precisely why organisations like us at Enderley Consulting exist, to provide guidance and advice. The lack of clear instruction on the nature of Outcome-Focussed Regulation (OFR) has also led to the creation of a new membership body for risk and compliance professionals, with the chief aim of encouraging discourse and pressuring the SRA for further guidance on the precise nature of the rules.