News Release

SRA to look at how firms are delivering their equality and diversity responsibilities

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is starting a new thematic pilot project focusing on firms' adherence to Principle 9 – relating to how they are delivering their equality and diversity obligations in practice.

The pilot will also include an evaluation of how firms are responding to the Legal Services Board's (LSB) Diversity Data Transparency Requirement launched this summer with a deadline for submission of information by 31 October 2012. The data transparency requirement is an integral indicative behaviour* within Principle 9.

Starting this month, 100 randomly selected firms across England and Wales will be contacted by the SRA's Supervision team to arrange visits, sometimes accompanied by colleagues from Diversity and Inclusion, with a view to finding out both how they are meeting their responsibilities in this area, and how the SRA can offer support.

Drawing on the expertise of staff from right across the organisation, the SRA's team will look at discussing challenges a firm may face, identify benchmarks for measuring and understanding compliance with Principle 9, and the outcomes in Chapter 2 of the Code of Conduct. During the visits they plan to:

  • use the SRA's resources effectively to maximise engagement with firms on raising awareness and developing effective data collection and reporting systems
  • build on the work already started this year through a series of events held for the profession to focus on this issue
  • give the SRA an opportunity to work across themes which are interlinked, such as helping vulnerable consumers understand their rights with regard to legal services.
  • discuss what the SRA could do to improve regulation and promotion of equality and diversity issues.

Mehrunnisa Lalani, the SRA's Director of Inclusion said: "This project builds on the findings from the old Rule 6 complaints, and our initial supervision pilot which focused in the main on the diversity transparency requirement and ran from January to September. This thematic pilot will enable us to carry out targeted work we need to do with firms on meeting their equality and diversity duties.

"We will then establish how firms are managing the requirement to collect diversity data, the reasons why some are not collecting it and why some are experiencing difficulties. As a result, we will be able to assess what support and guidance firms need to comply and help us to identify key issues and good practice.

"In the continually changing legal services market, firms who have in place sound quality and diversity practices should find it easier to attract a diverse applicant and client base.”


Note to editors

* ‘Indicative behaviours' are used to assess firms' delivery of the outcomes and Principles.
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