Monday, 31 December 2012

2013 - All Change Again for Legal Services?

14 months since the introduction of outcomes focused regulation (OFR) and now we embark on yet another year of change for the legal sector with the introduction of the COLP and COFA roles.  So are you ready to start the new year with a robust and comprehensive compliance framework?

In my travels over the past year, I have encountered many views on these changes (positive and otherwise), together with some myths(!), which I thought I would share;

"We have Lexcel accreditation so we don't have to worry about being compliant"
Whilst it certainly helps to have a consistent standard of practice management, the Lexcel Quality Mark does not deal with all the aspects of OFR.

"The COLP and COFA roles are just another title"
Whilst compliance with the SRA regulations is the responsibility of everyone in a law firm, the responsibility for ensuring there are good compliance arrangements in place, and regular monitoring of them, are clearly that of the COLP/COFA

"We already have policies in place so we are sorted"
That is good news.  However, when did you last review them?  Are they still relevant since the introduction of OFR?  Does everyone know where they can access them, are familiar with their contents and how they relate to them and their role?

"The SRA are too busy with all their own changes to monitor compliance in law firms"
The SRA have certainly had some internal issues, particularly with mySRA since the introduction of the new compliance framework, but seriously does anyone want to rely on that thought!

"I haven't got time to deal with all the changes and carry out my fee earning work"
A common view - there is no doubt about the importance of looking after the clients and ensuring that the practice maintains financially stable.  It can be difficult juggling management and fee earning but once you have good compliance arrangements in place and these are embedded within the practice, they should become second nature.  Remember, if you are a COLP or COFA you may not be able to delegate your responsibilities, but you can delegate some of the work if you need help.

So time to get out those risk registers and compliance plans give them an overhaul and check you are ready to face the new regulatory world.

Happy New Year all


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