Ensuring Compliance: Steps To SRA Compliance
Compliance with the solicitor’s code of conduct, solicitors accounts rules and other core legislation that impacts on law firms and their management (e.g. AML) should be at the cornerstone of every law firm and underpin the firm as a while.
It does not matter how successful a firm is or how ‘great’ a fee earner or department is, if any fail to adhere to compliance and regulations requirements the firm (and individuals) could and will suffer what is likely to be a devastating blow.
Whilst it is true to say that there is a significant amount of regulation and legislation surrounding law firms the implementation of an effective, robust and successful compliance strategy is not only essential but does not have to be as cumbersome or time consuming as many firms seem to think or have allowed it to become. Law firms have an important role in society with a fundamental principal to uphold the rule of law. The focus of the regulations in the industry are to achieve a variety of goals with the integrity of the profession and protection of clients at the heart.
Like any business, law firms and their owners face the day to day challenges of business management from servicing clients, to managing staff through to financial management and planning. However, as with all regulated industries there is an additional burden of constantly ensuring that the firm operated within and adheres to regulation and legislation.
Taking the above into consideration, The Strategic Partner have collated some steps to ensure SRA Compliance: -
- Understanding – ensure you are aware of ALL the regulation and legislation that impact on law firms and the key elements that must be implemented to ensure your firm is compliant. There are various useful guides on the Law society website and beyond that there are a number of institutions proving online resources, training and compliance services all aimed at assisting law firms in putting together and maintaining a compliance structure. It is of course ‘easier said than done’ to increase your knowledge and understanding but it is essential and if you simply do not have the time you must delegate or outsource.
- Review – When did you last review the various policies and procedures adopted and used in the firm to make sure they are not only up to date with your requirements, but they reflect what happens in your firm in practise. Who was the person that drafted them and who last reviewed them? Policies and procedures should be reviewed annually, at least, however with an impending change to the Solicitors code of Conduct on 25th November 2019 there has never been a better time to review and update your policies and procedures
- Access – Ensure that your compliance offers and those holding key roles (MLRO etc) are accessible and the staff know how to engage with them and the information they need. Provide simple processes and reporting structures that staff understand, have access to and can use. The sharing and provision of information is core to a successful and robust compliance strategy.
- Audit – It is not enough to simply ensure your policies and procedures meet the requirements you need to actively demonstrate compliance. This is achieved through measured and proportionate auditing to ensure that those in the firm are not only aware of what their individual requirements are, but they are able to demonstrate compliance through audits and understanding. If you do not have the resource or the time outsource this element of your compliance structure. The AML regulations and the new code of conduct require you to evidence compliance, so it is imperative you have a system to do so. Too many firms fall down on making sure their staff know what is expected of them and prove this through auditing.
- Train – Make sure your compliance officers are up to date on their knowledge through providing access to resourced and training. Importantly educate and train your staff on the policies your firm adopts, their role in ensuring the firm is compliant and how the firm is policing the regulation and compliance policies. This should be undertaken as when employees start their employment with the firm, as changes are introduced to your policies and procedures or annually as a general ‘sweep up’
- Outsource - The Strategic Partner offers a law firm regulation and compliance outsource service providing firms with a focused approach to regulation that provides the core essentials to a compliant environment alongside auditing to provide independent evidence of effective implementation and general support on a range of regulatory and compliance matters. For a cost effective outsource solution that will work for you firm you can get more information on our website.
For more information about the Strategic partner and the work we do with and fir law firms you can visit our website, call us on 0203919710 or email us email@example.com.
The Strategic Partner provides essential support to law firms offering a range of products, services and consultancy tailored to the legal sector. Our experience and focus provide you with additional support when you need it and we will work closely with the firm and its owners as a Partner to you.
Our strength lies in our knowledge, experience and connections. We work with you on a continued basis so we truly understand your firm and, where needed, we will provide key services, guidance and support. Our focus is to work with you as a valued Partner, helping you to increase productivity and profitability and control risk through cost effective solutions without deteriorating service delivery.