Small firms

Firm-based authorisationOne of our key objectives is to ensure that sole practitioners and small firms are able to comply with our rules in a way that is appropriate for their size. This is not about compromising regulation. It is about identifying ways of making compliance with regulation easier and in a way which allows for innovation. It will enable as diverse a range of firms as possible to get on with doing business while meeting the needs of clients.

Get involved in our "Looking to the future" consultation

Risk Outlook 2016/17

The Risk Outlook outlines our priority risks for 2016/17: why they matter, current trends, and tips for managing them. The risks are:

Access to legal services – Many people do not get the legal help they need. You are best placed to serve your community, and we are reforming our regulation to make this easier.

Standards of service – The benefits of good complaints handling for your firm and clients, and the latest complaint trends.

Information security – New must-read chapter on cybercrime and protecting your clients’ money and information.

Integrity and ethics, protecting client money and money laundering – Why we set high standards, and how we are supporting you to protect your clients.

Diversity – Looking at the role large firms can play in improving diversity in the profession, while reducing the burden on small firms.

Check out our priority risks online tool for a summary of each risk, or read the Risk Outlook online now.

Regulatory updates

Regulation of consumer credit activities, April 2016

After the regulation of consumer credit activities was moved from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), we committed ourselves to finding the best way forward for law firms and users of legal services. We treated the change as a chance to review how to regulate the many law firms that carry out consumer credit activities.

Talking to small firms and sole practitioners about the changes focused our attention on the complexity of this area of regulation—and showed us that we could do more to help. Earlier this year, we launched a consumer credit toolkit. The toolkit is designed to help firms understand the regulatory requirements and deliver consumer credit services in a compliant way.

Our new rules relating to consumer credit activities came into force on 1 April. By now, all firms should have considered if they are affected by changes to the way consumer credit activities are regulated. Some firms may not be able to rely on our arrangements—and, so, may now need to be authorised by the FCA. If that is not an option for a given firm, it needs to stop carrying out consumer credit activities.

If your firm is delivering consumer credit services—whatever your circumstances—we recommend that you visit our consumer credit toolkit to learn more about the new regulatory approach.

Previous regulatory updates

Useful links

  • LawCare – an advisory and support service designed to help lawyers, their immediate families and their staff to deal with a range of issue
  • Sole practitioners group – an independent external stakeholder group, dedicated to representing the interests of sole practitioners
  • The Law Society Practice Advice Service – for advice and support on all aspects of legal practice
  • The Law Society Small Firms Division – provides information and services relevant to your practice, including industry news, business and finance analysis.

How does the SRA define a 'small firm'?

Our view is that a small firm can be best defined as a sole practitioner or a firm with no more than four partners, members or directors, which has an annual turnover of no more than £400,000. We do not feel it is necessary include any limit on the number of PC holders, as in practice turnover operates as the appropriate restriction.


Professional Ethics Guidance team – call our professional ethics advisors for advice on the SRA Handbook.

Contact Centre – available to help with most queries, including all mySRA user support requests

Your health, your career – Worried about your health? Problems at work? Talk to us early. We will try to help.

Supervision for small firms – dedicated support for small firms facing regulatory issues


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