The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) Standards and Regulations are effective from 25 November 2019.

Among the changes is a new set of rules allowing solicitors to work freelance or in unregulated entities.

To help solicitors adapt, the Law Society has published two new practice notes on:

The Standards and Regulations are shorter than the existing handbook. They include:

  • the creation of two separate codes of conduct for firms and solicitors
  • a simplified set of Accounts Rules that focus on the principles of keeping client money safe rather than specific and prescriptive technical rules
  • provisions allowing solicitors to carry out non-reserved legal work from within a business not regulated by a legal services regulator
  • solicitors’ entitlement to provide reserved legal services on a freelance basis
  • use of the SRA Digital Badge as a mandatory requirement for all regulated firms that run a website.

Law Society president Simon Davis said:

“Our new practice notes are a must-read for our members regardless of whether they are attracted to working in these new ways.

“If you are a solicitor in a regulated practice, you may find yourself dealing with a counterpart in an unregulated entity or with a freelancer representing the other party.

“The new handbook is opening to the door to different tiers of solicitors operating under different requirements for professional indemnity insurance, different protections for clients and, possibly, differences over where the compensation fund applies.

“The situation will vary depending on whether you are in a traditional law firm, practising in an unregulated commercial entity or if you plan to take advantage of the new model of being a freelance solicitor.

“One of the key concerns we have had is that the simplicity and clarity of the current system will be lost, leaving clients confused about the protections offered by the solicitor they engage and then, if they are let down, potentially left without recourse.”