In Industry Insights

No, it’s not a late April Fool’s joke. LawLand Solicitors, a sole practitioner firm, was recently fined £750 by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The fine was imposed for failing to “submit to the SRA its workforce diversity data after the SRA asked it to do so, in breach of paragraph 3.3(a) of the Code of Conduct for Firms”.

The decision to penalise a small-scale operator for relatively trivial matters seems misplaced. Particularly when the regulator faces far greater risks to the public from inside and outside the profession. 

It could be argued that such targeting of small firms may discourage sole practitioners from setting up in business.  These professionals often operate with limited resources and provide essential legal services to underserved communities.

The imposition of the fine raises questions about the SRA’s priorities, at a time when much greater public interest risks are relevant. 

The penalty seems to reflect a regulatory strategy that disproportionately impacts smaller practices, which are less able to absorb the financial and operational impacts of such sanctions compared to larger entities. A busy sole practitioner is likely to find the administrative side of compliance more challenging than a larger firm with dedicated risk and compliance staff.

For small firms, penalties like these can divert attention and resources away from providing legal services, ultimately affecting their sustainability and the broader public’s access to legal support.

This fine, and others like it, should spark a crucial conversation about the need for a regulatory approach that supports, rather than hinders, the foundational layers of the legal profession. 

See also the regular questionable fines handed out for Transparency Rules breaches.

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