This week the SRA Risk Outlook 2021-2022 was launched (‘What is the new normal? Challenges and opportunities for law firms after the lockdowns’), in time for the annual SRA Compliance Conference.
What is the SRA Risk Outlook?
Every year, the regulator produces a document which aims to identify the key risks in the legal sector.
To their credit, it has always been a useful piece of work. Not only does it prompt law firms to think of the ‘big picture’ issues, it also gives an insight into what is high on the SRA’s agenda.
Regulators are always more alert to issues they deem to be ‘hot topics’, which means you should be too.
The SRA Risk Outlook usually highlights broad areas that the SRA is specifically targeting. For example, financial crime, cyber-security, diversity and access to legal services have been recurring themes. You can find the archived reports here.
What does it say?
This year’s SRA Risk Outlook is slightly different. It reads more like a PESTLE analysis (hat tip to anyone who did A-Level Business Studies). The report focus more on external economic, political and societal factors impacting the profession, rather than specific ‘compliance’ themes.
The end result is something which is not as easy to summarise and digest, but has more substance.
The interesting part of the report is contained in the ‘Forces for change’ section, in which they identify:
- Economic drivers, including inflation, supply chain issues and general economic volatility caused by the pandemic
- Political and regulatory drivers including calls for more innovation, changes to dispute resolution, and the increased use of digital services
- Consumer behaviour drivers including hybrid working, ethical demands from society and unmet legal need.
- Firm and market behaviour drivers including the ever-increasing use of commercial technology, market consolidation, and the cost of professional indemnity insurance.
Who should read the report?
As tempting as it is to say ‘everyone’, in reality the Risk Outlook has always been aimed at law firm managers and owners.
It should be on every COLP , COFA and MLRO’s essential reading list.
And don’t forget, you can claim the continuing competence credit (CPD in old money) for just reading the document.