There has been strong interest from new and existing law firms in being overseen by the regulatory arm of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), it said yesterday.
Having won approval from Parliament last year to regulate practices and all of the reserved legal activities, ILEX Professional Standards (IPS) said it had received expressions of interest from nearly 50 prospective businesses to be run by CILEx members.
Since applications opened on 5 January, it has also received “several enquiries from existing regulated legal firms as to whether they can switch to IPS as a regulator, including from multi-partner firms”.
IPS has been explicit in its desire to lure firms from other regulators, while warning that it should not be seen as a way to escape scrutiny or be judged by lower standards.
One of the first chartered legal executives to seek authorisation is Mark Winton, currently a consultant with Setfords, a new-breed firm that operates nationally on a consultant and fee-share model. He is a civil litigator who specialises in personal injury and credit hire work.
He said: “The fact that IPS have now been granted rights to regulate its members and law firms is the final piece in the jigsaw puzzle for me, as I can take everything I have learnt over the years and start operating independently… I’ve found the IPS model to be much more competitive than some other regulators.”
IPS also revealed that new entities will be able to complete a single proposal form to receive quotes from multiple professional indemnity insurers.
IPS chief executive Ian Watson said: “We have sought to make the process fair whilst maintaining rigour. So far as we can, we have tailored regulatory cost to the size and type of business that we’re going to regulate to make our regulatory offer attractive.
“Until now, CILEx members were not able to run their own firms independently delivering reserved legal activities. Before they can be considered for entity authorisation, a member must be approved by IPS to practise the relevant reserved activity independently.
“Practice rights applications for reserved activities take approximately three months to process, and we expect that once those eligible are granted the rights, we will then start to receive entity applications from our own membership. We expect applications numbers to build gradually, but over time this will represent a significant market change.”
Solicitors would not have to make practice rights applications.
The Bar Standards Board also began accepting entity applications on 5 January, and last week said it had received expressions of interest from 18 prospective firms in the first few days.