It’s time to take a quick look at what’s going on in the world of regulation for lawyers.
This week we are going to take a break from the new SRA rules, to try and avoid Handbook-fatigue. However, something caught my eye over at the Legalfutures blog. For those of you concerned about what the new rules will mean for you and what changes you have to make, here is a rather comforting quote from an SRA spokesman:
“…A key aim for our reform programme has been to seek to minimise disruption to those we regulate by ensuring firms that are compliant with our current regulatory arrangements will still be compliant with the new arrangements.
…In the main, firms and individuals who are compliant with our current principles and codes, and who do not want to change arrangements, will not need to do so….”
Now, that’s not to say that we can all sit back and do nothing. At the very least, we need to be educating ourselves and our staff on what’s in store.
I take this opportunity to plug an excellent e-Learning course produced by our very own Andrew Donovan. It is comprehensive, accessible and well-priced. Those of you familiar with Andrew’s engaging style will know how he makes regulation sound interesting!
Go and order the course, it is worth every penny.
N.B. #1 For Jonathon Bray consulting clients, the course will be included as part of your e-Learning package within the compliance app – hold tight for more details.
N.B. #2 We are also updating our template Office Manual to bring it into line with the new SRA rules and Lexcel 6.1. For those of you using the Jonathon Bray ‘house style’, please contact us for the latest version.
P.S. Not sponsored us yet for the Legal Walk? Please consider doing so here. Just a fiver will make a difference to our community’s wonderful advice agencies. Thank you 🙂
SIF saga gets worse, making retirement even more risky
As many of you will be aware, the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF) scheme – which effectively acts as the insurer of last resort once run-off cover has ended – ends in 2020.This is going to leave retiring solicitors with an unenviable choice: buy additional run-off cover (assuming it’s available), or be faced with the uncertainty of old claims coming back to haunt them, potentially putting personal assets at risk.
But it gets worse.
It is becoming clear that the fact that SIF will not accept “potential” claim notifications – it will only accept notification of actual claims – leaves a huge gap in cover for retired solicitors. “Top up” run-off insurers will require all circumstances to have been notified to SIF.
The SRA and the insurance industry need to get together to sort this out. And since SIF closes in 12 months time, they need to do so quickly.
In the meantime, if you are planning your retirement, make sure you speak to your broker early.
Of course, the best exit is to find someone who will take over the practice, either as a going concern or as a successor practice.
Review of legal regulation – Interim report released
The Legal Services Review, headed by Professor Mayson over at UCL, has produced its interim report.
It is a fascinating read, and well worth 20 minutes of your time.
Since our current regulatory system is- shall we say – messy, there was always scope for the review to be pretty radical. And it doesn’t disappoint.
Prof Mayson acknowledges that there is an entire industry of unregulated legal services, in which the public receives no protection.
The narrowly-defined “reserved activities” are anachronistic and need to be challenged. Largely, it is only a provider’s professional title that dictates where they sit in the regulatory system.
And the current system fails to place public protection as the overriding objective of regulation. For example, customers of unregulated providers do not have access to the Legal Ombudsman scheme.
White labelling law firms
Cardiff-based ‘virtual’ law firm, Carbon Law Partners, have unveiled their latest innovation – the ‘Firm within a Firm’.Under this model, which we have been working with them on for some time, a firm will be able to launch as a trading name of Carbon. It will benefit from all of the firm’s back office, insurance, compliance and tech. In return, the new firm pays a licence fee.
What is most interesting about this development of the ‘virtual’ model, is that it enables new entrants to launch a law firm without all the risk of starting a new firm from scratch. And it allows the lawyers and entrepreneurs to do what they do best, without getting caught up in the practice management side of the business.
Really bold thinking by Carbon, executed brilliantly. And sure to be a success.
Who would this model suit?
- An alternative to starting an ABS
- Foreign law firms looking for a foothold in London – potentially a post-Brexit strategic option
- Teams departing other law firms with a book of work
- Mid-tier accountancy practices selling legal to the commercial clients
- University teaching law firms and spin-outs
- In-house legal departments being monetised as a shared resource
- The list is only limited by imagination!
Practice notes, guidance and consultations
- Open SRA consultation: Assuring advocacy standards – now that QASA has been scrapped, the SRA is consulting on revising higher rights assessment.
- Blog post: An inside track to a fraud-free firm – interesting US-perspective on protecting firms from internal fraud and embezzlement.
- Thomas David Barnes – trainee solicitor slapped with ‘Section 43 Order’ (effectively ending his career before it has begun). He acted dishonestly by trying to cover up a mistake.
- Matthew Timothy Sparrow – £5000 fine for mistakenly misleading the court.
- Mark Andrew Fallon – fined £25,000 for getting involved in a dubious investment scheme.
- Alex Rolf Van Der Zwaan – struck off for dishonestly making false statements to a branch of the US government.
- Abel Manukyan – Fined £2500 for over-claiming expenses, which interestingly stopped short of dishonesty, but nonetheless breached the public’s trust.
- Muhhammad Ifzal – struck off for dishonestly falsifying academic certificates in order to be admitted to the roll.
- Lauren Anderson – suspended for 12 months for various offences including practising without a practising certificate and without PII.