Changes to the Handbook – updated guidance from The Law Society
A radical overhaul of the regulations that govern solicitors is just weeks away and to help the profession adapt the Law Society of England and Wales is publishing two must-read practice notes.
Among the changes being pushed through by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is a new set of rules allowing solicitors to work freelance or in unregulated entities.
The new ‘Standards and Regulations’ that come in on 25 November 2019 are shorter than the existing handbook. They include:
- the creation of two separate codes of conduct for firms and solicitors. A simplified set of Accounts Rules that focuses on the principles of keeping client money safe rather than specific and prescriptive technical rules
- provisions allowing solicitors to carry out ‘non-reserved’ legal work from within a business not regulated by a legal services regulator
- solicitors' entitlement to provide reserved legal services on a freelance basis
use of the SRA Digital Badge as a mandatory requirement for all regulated firms which run a website
“We are working hard to make sure that solicitors understand the full implications of the changes,” said Law Society president Simon Davis.
“Our new practice notes - one on freelance solicitors, the other on working in unregulated entities - are a must-read for our members regardless of whether they are attracted to working in these new ways.
“If you are a solicitor in a regulated practice, you may find yourself dealing with a counterpart in an unregulated entity or with a freelancer representing the other party.
“The new handbook is opening to the door to different tiers of solicitors operating under different requirements for professional indemnity insurance, different protections for clients and, possibly, differences over where the compensation fund applies.
“The situation will vary depending on whether you are in a traditional law firm, practising in an unregulated commercial entity or if you plan to take advantage of the new model of being a freelance solicitor.
“One of the key concerns we have had is that the simplicity and clarity of the current system will be lost, leaving clients confused about the protections offered by the solicitor they engage and then, if they are let down, potentially left without recourse.”
You can access The Law Society's new practice notes via these links:
Solicitors offering legal services to the public from unregulated entities
The Law Society is working hard to provide relevant information to solicitors. This includes a range of resources to help firms ensure they are compliant with the new regulatory framework.
Access The Law Society page here: