Compliance Regulation & Risk Management
Through both our direct services and through our Partner firms, we can deliver a whole range of regulation, compliance, risk management support and business services.
Through working with you, we will provide your law firm regulatory compliant advice as well as help you implement a detailed regulation and compliance programme ensuring that your firm and your staff are fully aware of the obligations to comply with the various rules required to be followed at a law firm.
We also offer an ongoing maintenance programming involving audits and onsite training to ensure that your firm is up to date and remains compliant at all times.
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i. SRA Handbook Compliance
Risk identification and risk management are at the core of an effective approach to compliance. Law firms are required to have effective processes and procedures in place to address the requirements set out in the SRA Handbook and associated legislation.
Whether you are a new law firm or you are looking to improve and consolidate the approach to compliance across your firm, we can carry out a comprehensive risk management assessment, report back to you on your firm’s specific requirements and shortfalls identified and address these by creating bespoke systems, policies and procedures for you. Our experts will give advice and assistance and enable you to take a confident approach to compliance in future.
ii. COLP Compliance Support
Compliance officers everywhere are feeling the pressure when in addition to their fee earning and other day-to-day duties, they have to spend a significant amount of time planning and implementing compliance, managing risks and devising ways of being able to demonstrate this to the regulator. It makes sense to outsource compliance duties to our team of experts who provide an ongoing compliance service, ensuring you keep pace with the demands of the continuously changing regulatory environment.
This support can be tailored to meet your specific needs and can include regular days spent on-site at your offices with a view to keeping your compliance systems under review and adapting them to meet regulatory requirements and undertaking file reviews as well as having expert guidance available by phone and email as and when required to address ad-hoc queries.
iii. COFA Compliance Support
Our experts regularly assist COFAs by performing a series of control checks on firm’s accounting systems, including the authorisation of transactions, client and office reconciliation controls and aged balances and client matter balances. They carry out file and ledger reviews targeting high-risk areas, providing you with the assurance such independent expert scrutiny brings to a task which is an essential part of the COFA’s compliance regime. They give advice on any remedial action identified as necessary and detailed feedback to the COFA. They also provide email and telephone support to the COFA and other accounts staff as and when required.
In short, they work with you to ensure inadequate accounts systems and controls do not lead to financial difficulty and failure.
iv. File Reviews
File reviews will reveal the extent to which fee earners comply with key requirements such as anti-money laundering checks, client and matter risk assessments, conflict checks, scoping the retainer, the provision of costs and client care information to clients.
However, finding the time and making sure the expertise is on hand to undertake thorough and regular file reviews is difficult. More and more firms are now outsourcing this essential work.
Our experts undertake file reviews for a variety of firms, from sole practitioners and high street firms through to city firms and large multinationals and have also helped a number of firms make their own internal file review systems more effective.
v. New Law Firm and ABS Applications
From the initial stages of drafting your business plan and financial projections and obtaining your PI insurance through the completion of the SRA’s application forms and supporting documentation, our experts are happy to liaise with the SRA’s Authorisation team on your behalf and assist you with follow up questions and requests from your Authorisation Officer.
vi. Cyber Crime and Fraud Prevention
Our experts carry out a comprehensive on-site cyber crime and fraud risk assessment that looks at all of the systems and processes in place across your firm, report back to you on possible weaknesses identified and offer you practical solutions. Cyber crime and fraud prevention training can be tailored to your requirements and delivered at your offices. You will also receive a bespoke cyber crime and fraud prevention policy to give everyone in the firm practical advice to pre-empt breaches as well as a bespoke cyber attack / fraud incident management plan to help you in the event of a successful attack to minimise damage and bring about the best possible result in rectifying it.
vii. Training and Development
Our experts deliver bespoke training sessions tailored to your requirements in all areas of compliance. This can be in the form of a seminar, a lecture, a workshop or one-to-one coaching.
viii. Lexcel, CQS, WIQS and SQM
Quality standards such as Lexcel, Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS), the Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS) or the Specialist Quality Mark (SQM) are becoming increasingly important to demonstrate a level of credibility and quality assurance. Lexcel or SQM accreditation is mandatory for any firm undertaking working under an LAA contract. Most lenders are making CQS membership a pre-requisite for panel application.
Our experts support firms to achieve or retain membership/accreditation to these quality schemes and can also conduct mock audits to assess your current systems, policies and procedures and help you with any corrective action required.
ix. Referral Arrangements and LASPO Compliance
The ban on referral fees introduced by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) has dealt a savage blow to personal injury firms. At the same time, it has brought a great deal of confusion and concern. Our experts work with personal injury firms on how to deal with the compliance challenges imposed by LASPO and assist with the structuring of commercial business relationships with third parties to prevent the firm falling foul of the provisions of LASPO.
x. Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Bribery Procedures
Anti-Money Laundering should form an integral part of a firm’s approach to risk management and compliance. A number of firms, however, have significant weaknesses in this area which could have potentially disastrous consequences. When looking at your firm’s approach to anti-money laundering, it is useful to also consider whether you have adequate procedures and staff have been trained on the requirements of the Bribery Act 2010. We assist firms in Anti-Money Laundering and Bribery Act compliance, including reviewing and drafting policies and procedures to assist with monitoring and evidencing compliance, as well as complying with requirements for staff training.
xi. SRA Monitoring, Inspections and Investigations
Are you concerned about how to respond to an SRA request for information, prepare for an audit or handle an investigation? Through our Partners we can guide you in all aspects of your interaction with the SRA. As former SRA compliance experts, our experts know how to interact effectively with the regulator and will help you prepare and respond in the best possible way.
xii. Law Firm Mergers and Acquisitions
Whether you are contemplating a full-scale merger with another law firm, or taking over all or part of another firm, lack of proper forward planning, particularly in relation to risk, can lead to problems which far outweigh the benefits. Our experts work with the acquiring firm to test regulatory compliance at the target firm, with particular focus on financial stability together with a wide range of pre-merger duties to ensure that the merged firm has addressed the range of compliance risks posed by the merger and is best placed to operate in a consistent and efficient way.
If you are actively seeking to merge, acquire or sell, our members can discretely advertise this through our website. Click here for more information.
xiii. Orderly Closure of Law Firms
When it comes to the closure of a law firm, there are numerous risks to consider, in particular: failure to meet regulatory requirements leading to disciplinary action; claims for loss of documents, breach of confidentiality or negligence and complaints of poor service to the Legal Ombudsman. All of these are likely to be costly and time-consuming to deal with and may affect your ability to practice in the future. Regulatory breaches can lead to fines and/or restrictions on your ability to practice and in very serious cases striking off. Our experts work with law firms to address the risks associated with a closure of a firm.