New guidance released this month will help prepare solicitors for the introduction of new Standards and Regulations in November.
Published by the legal sector regulator, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the guides are designed to keep the sector compliant with major changes to accounting rules.
The reforms include the creation of two distinct codes of conduct; one for firms and one for solicitors, as well as a simplified set of Accounts Rules that focus on the principles of “keeping client money safe rather than specific and prescriptive technical rules”.
Accounting officers will also be given greater freedom to apply “professional judgment” on what qualifies as a serious or minor breach of Accounts Rules and what can be remedied in-house without reporting the incident to the relevant authorities.
Solicitors will also be empowered to carry out ‘non-reserved’ legal work from within a business not regulated by a legal services regulator and provide reserved legal services on a freelance basis.
Announcing the reforms last year, SRA chief executive Paul Philip said the changes will make it “easier” for solicitors to do business and meet the needs of those who require their services.
“We have removed unnecessary bureaucracy, while protecting the public and providing a clear focus on what really matters – the high professional standards that have to be at the heart of every solicitor’s practice,” he said.
Welcoming the new rules, Law Society president Simon Davis added: “We are working hard to make sure that solicitors understand the full implications of the changes.
“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.”
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