Small firms

small firmsAre you a sole practitioner, or do you work for a small firm?

We want to make sure that sole practitioners and small firms can comply with our rules in ways that work best for them, so that they can get on with doing business and serving their clients. In this part of the website you can find resources and information designed to help you keep up to date with regulation, and to make it easier to meet the right requirements.

Regulatory updates

Do you work in the youth courts?

In November 2016 we launched a new toolkit for solicitors practising in the youth court, as part of our continuing competence tool kit. As well as setting out resources and helpful tips, it can help you to identify learning and development needs required to remain competent in delivering services to clients in the Youth Court.

Helping us to help you

Our ‘Looking to the future’ programme is well underway, and we are committed to helping solicitors and small firms comply with any changes we make to our Handbook. We are running a short survey to help us identify where you may need help and the best way to provide that help. It is open until the end of January 2017 so please take part.

Getting information to members of the public

We have published a discussion paper about some of the data we have about solicitors, and how this can be made available to members of the public to help them make choices about legal services. This could mean your clients might in the future have access to a greater range of information about you and your work. We would like to hear what you think about this, and you can find out more on our 'Using regulatory data' hot topics page.

New approach to continuing competence

On 1 November 2016 our new approach to continuing competence became mandatory for all solicitors. It requires all solicitors to reflect on the quality of their practice and to address their learning and development needs. To help you understand what you need to do, we have produced an online toolkit.

Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE)

Currently, solicitors can qualify through a large number of providers and in a number of ways, but there is no consistent benchmark. Under changes we are consulting on anyone wishing to be a solicitor would have to undergo the same independently-set professional assessment before qualifying.

You can find out more about the SQE and take part in the consultation by visiting our SQE hot topics page.

Previous regulatory updates

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.

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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