Issue 90 March 2021
While the full legacy of the pandemic for how we all work may take some time to emerge, it is already likely that people will continue to use online services in the way that has become second nature over the last year. This issue covers our work to help you respond to this, whether that’s through embracing the use of online reviews and comparisons sites or by looking ahead to the legal innovations and technologies of the future.
We also look at changes due to come in on 1 April regarding who now needs to take a Higher Rights of Audience assessment.
With Ofcom reporting the public now spend 25% of their waking lives online, we are running a pilot to encourage more law firms to proactively engage with online customer reviews and comparison websites. Learn more about how you can get involved and unlock the benefits engaging with online reviews can bring.
We have commissioned Oxford University to carry out research on your experiences with both legal technology and innovation. We will be emailing you soon with a survey to ask your views, while some of you will be approached for more in-depth interviews.
Following approval by the Legal Services Board, only admitted solicitors will take the Higher Rights of Audience (HRA) assessment, a change that comes into effect on 1 April. Candidates will also be assessed against revised criminal and civil HRA standards. Those who have not been admitted as a solicitor and want to take the criminal and/or civil HRA assessments before qualifying must complete the assessment before 1 April.
We have had reports from law firms of a return of scammers using emails designed to look like they have been sent by us. These emails are designed to illegally obtain money or sensitive information, and may have contained a link that would have allowed malware to be installed on internal IT systems.
Catch up on the latest issue of SQE Update, our newsletter that keeps you up to speed on the Solicitors Qualifying Examination, being introduced in September. Find out about our appointment of the new SQE evaluator, the latest SQE policies, and the opportunities solicitor apprenticeships can bring employers.
Everyone looking to qualify through the SQE route will need to complete at least two years' work qualifying work experience (QWE). This free webinar on 15 March offers the latest information on what you’ll need to do – for example how it’s the work you do and not your job title that matters, and ways you can record your experience.
Join us for a free webinar on 16 March to get practical advice on how to help keep the proceeds of crime out of legal services. You will hear about the types of issues - and good practice - we have seen from our visits to review practice within law firms.
Hear from solicitors at Hogan Lovells, McDermott Will & Emery and Trowers & Hamlins on how they are changing the landscape on diversity, equality and inclusion in this webinar on 23 March. Chair of the SRA Board, Anna Bradley, will ask these senior allies how they are making a difference in their firms.
Are you confident you are fully complying with our transparency rules on price, service and protections? We are regularly checking law firms’ websites. We want to provide support to help you fully comply and this webinar on 24 March - targeted at smaller firms – should help.
Is your law firm interested in taking on an apprentice solicitor? We are running a free webinar on 19 April giving practical advice and information on what it could mean for your firm and how to go about it. Alongside the SRA, hear from the Government’s Education and Skills Agency and other law firms.
Are you worried about your health affecting your work? Life as a solicitor can be challenging and the demands and pressures can easily build up. We can signpost you to sources of help and make adjustments for you if you are in difficulty.
While the full legacy of the pandemic for how we all work may take some time to emerge, it is already likely that people will continue to use online services in the way that has become second nature over the last year. It’s why our transparency rules – which cover the information you to need to publish to help potential clients -– are even more important. Read below how we continue to check on compliance with these rules and are taking action where we find firms not meeting their obligations.
Also in this issue is a reminder of the support we have available to help you both during lockdown, and as we emerge from it.
You need to make sure that your firm is publishing all the information required under our transparency rules, which became fully compulsory in November 2019. If you haven’t published the information required already, please act now as our work to check individual firms is ongoing.
While the Government has outlined a potential timeline for the easing of lockdown, we know that the Covid-19 pandemic continues to pose day-to-day challenges for many over how you run your business and service your clients. We originally published advice on staying compliant with our rules in these difficult times in March 2020 and continue to revise and update the content to make sure they remain relevant to any new or emerging issues.
We will be contacting those firms that have said they are not in scope of the money laundering regulations to check their status to confirm they do not need supervision. The regulations have changed recently and firms that were previously not in scope might now be captured.
Now that we have officially left the EU, there are some changes that could affect the way you work. You can find out about some of these on our Brexit pages. We continue to update the pages as new information about how you might be affected comes to light.
With BT Openreach set to make significant upgrades to the UK’s telephone network over the next four year, Ofcom are urging businesses in all sectors to consider what impact these changes may have on your own systems and networks.