Rachel Khiara, formerly a leading professional practice partner at national firm Addleshaw Goddard, has launched her own niche boutique specialising in advising law firms, alternative business structures (ABSs) and other advisers on the new regulatory regime in the legal sector.
Ms Khiara – who before Addleshaws was counsel at Allen & Overy – will initially work as a solo practitioner under name Khiara Law, advising clients on outcomes-focused regulation (OFR).
She is also offering what she describes as a unique outsourced regulatory and compliance advisory services to other advisers, including lawyers, allowing them to expand their offering to their own legal clients.
Her practice will cover all aspects of the new SRA Handbook, including issues such as compliance, outsourcing, the roles of the compliance officers, and reporting duties. She also has experience of advising on a range of internal governance issues and on establishing, acquiring and selling LLPs.
Ms Khiara said many bodies were looking for guidance on OFR. “People are aware of the new procedures they have to put in place but there is still a lot of uncertainty,” she said.
These include the extent of the obligations of firms to give the SRA access to files from an outsourcer, what compliance officers for legal practice and for finance and administration need to do about their obligations to clients, and the extent to which the SRA expects whistle-blowing provisions to be enforced.
“The Handbook is a new approach and is quite novel for legal service providers and the regulators,” she added. “Lawyers like to have things in black and white so it is quite a cultural shift to move to outcomes-focused regulation. I think it will take a year before the market realises the full implication of the changes.”
Ms Khiara has spent 13 years advising on professional practices, including working at Allen & Overy and most recently, as a partner at Addleshaws. She co-ordinated the firm’s responses to the Legal Service Board and SRA’s consultation papers on the regulation of ABSs and also sat on the SRA’s ABS reference group.