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.”

For help and advice on this matter, please get in touch with our expert team.

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About our Legal team
With Mark Sharpley, executive committee member of the UK200 Legal Group, and fellow partner Nicki Shipley and our consultant Jeremy Allison at the helm of an experienced team of legal finance specialists, the Smailes Goldie Group is well positioned to offer tax and accounting advice to solicitors. Whether you are a sole practitioner or a multi-partner firm, the Smailes Goldie group has the expertise and understanding of all financial matters relating to the legal profession, including: compliance services, Solicitors’ Accounts Rule audits, preparing annual accounts, tax advice for both firms and/or partners, and advising on LLP status. For more information on any of the issues covered in this bulletin, please contact Mark Sharpley at marksharpley@smailesgoldie.co.uk.

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