Proportionality and preparation were the key messages for the legal sector at a Manchester seminar hosted by Weightmans and accountancy firm HURST this week.
To help lawyers prepare for their new obligations, Weightmans partner Michelle Garlick and HURST partner Helen Besant Roberts hosted a breakfast workshop at Weightmans’ Manchester office entitled ‘The chosen ones’.
The seminar was attended by over 40 delegates looking for advice on the obligation to have an authorised compliance officer for legal practice (COLP) and for finance and administration (COFA) from January 2013. Attendees had all been nominated for the role and are already working their way through the requirements of the Solicitors Regulation Authority to be fully compliant.
Ms Garlick, who heads up a team at Weightmans advising law firms on regulatory compliance, believes that the implementation of this new requirement should not be daunting or stressful if the nominated COLPs and COFAs are fully equipped with the knowledge they need.
She said: “The newly nominated COLPs and COFAs will ensure that a firm has systems and controls in place to enable the firm, its managers and employees, to comply with the SRA Handbook. This may seem like a daunting period for those nominated but we are here to help.
“Now is the time to check all systems and procedures to ensure full compliance. Preparation and proportionality are instrumental in ensuring all bases are covered and everything is ready in time for the January deadline and beyond.”
Speaking to the delegates, Ms Besant Roberts added: “A burden shared is a burden halved. If there are parts of the role that are unfamiliar or officers do not feel comfortable in dealing with, you can outsource these or ask for external advice to make sure every requirement is met correctly.
“Seek legal and financial advice where appropriate and head into 2013 with peace of mind.”