Regulation round-up: the first US law firm ABS that wasn’t – thanks to SRA error

SRA: administrative error

SRA: administrative error

‘First’ US ABS named in error

Jenner & Block has not become the first US law firm licensed as an alternative business structure (ABS), it has emerged – rather it was an error by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Legal Futures and others reported the apparent landmark after Jenner’s new UK operation was listed on the SRA’s online ABS register.

The entry disappeared a few days later and the SRA only revealed why after an enquiry from this website.

An SRA spokesman said: “The firm spotted the mistake and we apologised for any confusion and acted immediately to put it right. We have looked into how it happened and inclusion on the register was an administrative error with no implications for the firm’s authorisation.”

The firm’s UK affiliate has in fact received authorisation as a ‘regular’ law firm.

CILEx: make QC for all

All lawyers, not only those who appear in court, should be eligible for the title of Queen’s Counsel, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) has argued.

In its response to a consultation being run by QC Appointments, CILEx said the title should indicate excellence and expertise for the whole legal profession, and not be reserved for just advocates. Widening the selection pool would also create a more diverse crop of candidates.

The response said: “There is still too much emphasis on advocacy. In some areas of law advocacy is rare. It is the capacity to be an excellent lawyer and not only a good advocate that is essential for the role.”

CILEx chief executive Mandie Lavin – a former director of the Bar Standards Board – said: “QCs are amongst the highest profile figures of the legal profession, though they are not always reflective of our diversity and make-up. Broadening the pool of candidates, whilst continuing to appoint on merit, will give the QC title greater validity and respect.”

CILEx also followed the lead of the Legal Services Consumer Panel in calling for periodic re-accreditation for QCs. “Conferring a title that has a marked impact on the level of fees a QC can charge offers no guarantee of competence being sustained over time in the absence of any system of re-accreditation,” it said. “Neither does it encourage consumer transparency in the absence of information on the lawyer’s specialism. We would urge a consultation on re-accreditation.”

New members for LeO board

The Office for Legal Complaints – the board of the Legal Ombudsman – has five new members after four came to the end of their terms and another stood down.

There is one ‘non-lay’ member among the new faces – Caroline Coates, a litigation partner at DWF, where she is head of the Birmingham office and national head of automotive. She is also former president of Birmingham Law Society.

The four new lay members are: accountant Michael Kaltz, an EY partner whose public posts include being a lay member of the employment tribunal; former Pensions Ombudsman Tony King; Dr Bernard Herdan, whose career began in aerospace engineering before a host of senior executive role in public sector agencies ranging from the Met Office to the National Fraud Authority; and Jane McCall, who has worked in the social housing sector for nearly 25 years and is currently managing director of landlord at Trafford Housing Trust.

They replace Tony Foster (lay), Rosemary Carter (non-lay) and David Thomas (non-lay), who are stepping down after two terms; Maureen Vevers (lay), who has finished her first term and decided not to serve a second; and Stella Manzie (lay), who stepped down following her appointment as the one of the government commissioners selected to oversee Rotherham Council.

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