With Christmas just around the corner, many of us will be inundated with festive events to kick off the season in style. Whilst this is an opportunity to indulge in mince pies, mulled wine and socialise with colleagues, remember that upholding the reputation of your profession remains a permanent state of affairs, and not an obligation which can be ‘relaxed’ simply because it’s Christmas.
The introduction of the SRA Standards and Regulations (StaRs) on 25 November 2019 brings with it a number of changes to the legal regulatory landscape, as set out by my colleagues in previous blogs in this series. Change is not always something we welcome with open arms, especially when busy workloads leave little time for us to take stock. This, however, is a real opportunity to do just that; review your firm’s current systems, processes and approach to complying with its regulatory obligations, and reflect on your own practice, and improve these for the better.
The SRA Standards and Regulations (StaRs) were over four years in the making and whilst many of the changes they introduced are more noticeable in form, rather than in (any new) substance, the same cannot be said for the provisions which widen the legal market by liberalising the ways in which solicitors can practise. One such notable change is the widening of the scope within which solicitors can practise on their own and the creation of a new type of solicitor: the ‘SRA-regulated independent solicitor’ (or, ‘freelancer’).
The subject is hardly taught here and there is a real danger many lawyers do not understand. Ethics sits at the heart of the updated regulatory framework that the Solicitors Regulation Authority is set to implement on November 25. The emphasis on behaviour and culture is in stark contrast to the 2011 version, where risk and compliance were the focus.