Written by International Compliance Association on Wednesday October 23, 2019
The long-awaited remodelled regulatory toolkit from the SRA is to be launched on 25 November 2019. Called the SRA Standards and Regulations, (or STARs for short), its tone is evolutionary rather than revolutionary, but it does provide some very strong messages about what will in future be expected from lawyers and others in SRA-authorised law firms. Compliance professionals employed in these firms should be busy preparing to support their colleagues to make a safe and appropriate transition.
The STARs embody phase two of the SRA’s regulatory relationship with regulated individuals and SRA-authorised law firms. Phase one was introduced by the SRA in 2011 with the SRA Handbook. This was revolutionary, introducing such unfamiliar concepts as outcomes-driven regulation, compliance officers, regulatory interest in internal governance and far more self-reporting than perhaps we were comfortable with. In other words, the regulator was creating the expectation that compliance would be a central service in law firms and that openness and accountability should be in evidence.
With phase two, the SRA is building on these foundation stones and making sure that compliance really is embedded as an effective and firmwide function. In fact, in well-run, forward-thinking entities, this is now the norm and compliance is no longer a backroom function. Compliance skills are now recognised as professional skills and many firms are hiring compliance professionals and/or upskilling their employees to facilitate this function.
The key features of the STARs build on this starting point and add further ingredients into the mix.
Regulated individuals and everyone employed in SRA-authorised law firms will be expected to demonstrate business as usual on 25 November, and this is where a solid compliance function operating as the engine room of the firm will enable ethical behaviour and the delivery of good quality legal services. We will be expected to ensure that there is a seamless adaptation to the new toolkit.
Suggestions for compliance professionals grappling with this task include the need to consider:
The compliance skillset needed to ensure this smooth transition are not confined to simply the technical knowledge, although it goes without saying that excellent knowledge of regulation and the STARs is needed. In addition, compliance professionals need the skills to be able to communicate with, and influence, the right people with the right language. They also need to have knowledge of the firm’s business strategies, the ability to effect change, and the means to monitor and assess compliance.
About the author: Tracey Calvert is a Director at Oakalls Consultancy Limited and a Tutor on ICA Advanced Certificate in Legal Compliance. The course provides a comprehensive overview of the legal regulatory environment and is suitable for legal compliance professionals working in England and Wales.
Disclaimer: This article originally appeared on www.lexology.com
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