Legal sector reforms offering more choice and flexibility go live
25 November 2019
- New Standards and Regulations come into effect today
- New rules get rid of bureaucracy and help to increase public access to legal services by allowing solicitors to work in new ways
- Use of SRA clickable logo becomes mandatory
- On-going five-year programme to evaluate impact of reforms
Following four years of development, including four consultations and input from 35,000 people, our new rules, Standards and Regulations, come into effect today.
The 131-page Standards and Regulations are a third of the length of the previous rules. They focus on what matters - high professional standards and protecting the public and its money. The aim is to help more people access the expert help of a solicitor - currently only one in ten people use a solicitor or barrister when they have a legal problem.
The reforms put more trust in professional judgment, getting rid of lots of outdated prescriptive rules and giving solicitors more flexibility about how they work. That means solicitors can work in new ways, outside a traditional law firm. This includes working on their own as a freelance solicitor, or as part of a non-regulated business, such as an HR firm, making it easier for people to use their services.
To support the introduction of the new rules, we have published a range of materials at www.sra.org.uk/newregs. This includes new guidance on areas such as the Accounts Rules, working outside a regulated business, and managing conflict of interests.
Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: "These reforms focus on what matters: the high professional standards that offer real public protection rather than unnecessary bureaucracy that generates costs, constrains firms and hinders access to legal services. This shorter, sharper set of rules support an open, modern, competitive legal sector that can better meet the need for accessible, affordable services.
“Working with the profession and the public, we’ve come a long way, but it is not end of the journey. We will be monitoring the impact of these changes closely and considering what more we need to do.”
Law firms are required to use the SRA clickable logo from 25 November. It provides visitors to a firm’s website with confirmation that the firm is regulated and sets out the protections this brings. More than half of firms - around 6,000 - are already using the clickable logo, which was available to for voluntary use from last December. Firms and individual solicitors are listed in the new SRA Solicitors Register, which will also help the public to have confidence in the choices they make.
We have commissioned economic consultancy Economic Insight to develop a five-year programme evaluating the reforms. This will include assessing the effect of the new Standards and Regulations, and Transparency Rules, on the public, profession and wider legal sector. Reports on progress will be conducted after one, three and five years.