The first in our quarterly Insight series looks at the regulation of legal services and how it is changing.
It explores different reactions to four fundamental changes the profession is having to grapple with this year – the end of hours-based professional development, the arrival of a real choice of regulator, changes to the Separate Business Rule and the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s plans to slim down the Accounts Rules and the Code of Conduct.
It finds that there is currently no consensus on the best way forward on any of these issues. Some believe solicitors, particularly in small firms, are burdened by too many rules, while other believe a lack of rules will only create huge amounts of guidance. Likewise, the Separate Business Rule has powerful advocates and equally determined opponents.
Even on ‘continuing competence’, there is no agreement on whether an hours-based approach is a good or bad thing. Meanwhile, as the number of legal regulators doubles to four, the heads of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, CILEx Regulation, the Bar Standards Board and Council for Licensed Conveyancers set out their stalls, giving us some idea where future battle lines will be drawn.