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Three years in. What have we learned?

As it is now three years since the launch of Compliance Legal, we thought that it would be a good time to reflect on what we have learned through our interaction with the legal profession.

  1. Standing still is not an option. Whether its SRA regulation, your people, processes, technology or even global world events, law firms must learn to adapt and embrace change. The hybrid working model was something that the legal profession didn’t truly embrace before 2020 but, as we saw, evolution and not revolution was the key. Your staff are now expecting a greater work life balance. If you want to attract and retain talent, be prepared to innovate otherwise there is a real danger that you could get left behind.
  2. Your people are your biggest asset. Be prepared to bring them on the journey, encourage and empower, invest in their self-development and support them when things are not going to plan. A recent SRA Workplace Culture Thematic Review concluded that a positive workplace culture is intrinsically linked to effective risk management and avoiding regulatory breaches. Supporting your staff could have real tangible benefits.
  3. You need to make time for compliance. A common theme that we have come across is that although senior leaders are keen to adopt an effective culture of compliance, making time to implement is a big challenge. This will not go down well with the regulator if they investigated you. So put some time aside in your calendar every week to review and reflect on where you are, where you want to be and what needs to be done. The SRA even suggested, in a recent review, that sharing central compliance roles across senior leaders is recommended.
  4. Money Laundering is the biggest risk to the profession. The SRA now seem to provide almost weekly advice and guidance in this area. They have also announced that additional resource will be allocated to their internal supervision teams and will be increasing engagement with firms. Don’t wait for that email, get your house in order now.
  5. If things do go wrong, don’t panic. There have been numerous reported cases of junior solicitors backdating documents or forging signatures on forms, which have resulted in strike offs by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. Have an open-door policy with your staff and encourage them to raise issues as soon as they become apparent.

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