Larger law firms switch to new SRA competence regime


Yehuda Solomont

Solomont: “a lot of apprehension” about the change

A poll of larger commercial law firms has shown that a higher number than expected, just under a quarter, have opted to introduce the new ‘hours-free’ continuing competence regime for solicitors.

The survey of 102 law firm clients by compliance training specialists VinciWorks found that 24% have already opted into the new regime, which was introduced on 1 April 2015.

A further 28% of firms said they would follow in November this year. Only a quarter (24%) said they would leave it to the last minute and move to the new system in November 2016, when the old hours-based system is finally phased out.

Most of the rest said they were undecided, while 8% said they would leave it up to individual solicitors. All the firms involved in the survey had at least 10 partners and they included international City firms and large national practices.

Yehuda Solomont, marketing manager at VinciWorks, said he believed the main reason for the high take-up was the way the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) announced the change, providing a tool kit and “a lot of detail” on what solicitors should do.

Mr Solomont said that in the past there had not been enough clarity on how outcome-focused regulation should be applied.

“There was a lot of apprehension before this came out, but now firms believe it could save them time,” he said. “The training and development departments of large firms are interested in focusing on what their real needs are.”

Mr Solomont said that, regardless of the changes, he expected a lot of calls in September regarding training courses and CPD reports.

“The other side of the coin is that the legal sector is resistant to change in general and any change makes people nervous.”

The results of the VinciWorks survey are in line with findings from a SRA webinar on the issue last month, in which a quarter of the 950 firms which registered said they had chosen to be early adopters of the new regime.

Law firms wanting to move to the new system straight away are not required to inform the SRA, so no precise figures on the number of firms involved are available.

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