Legal Futures is the media partner for the most comprehensive independent survey to date to establish the state of readiness of the legal services sector to respond to the impact of the full compliance obligations in the SRA Handbook. It is being undertaken by Edge International and Khiara Law LLP .
With publication of nomination forms  for firms’ compliance officers for legal practice and for finance and administration (COLP/COFA) imminent, preliminary findings confirm that many firms have either not considered the full implications of these offices (and accordingly the most appropriate person for the roles) or have no choice as to those nominated due to the size of their practice.
Ironically, the top 100 firms, who are set to benefit from the Law Society’s regulatory guidance pilot scheme, (many of whom also have individual Solicitors Regulation Authority relationship managers) are already the most well-resourced and familiar with the Handbook and their compliance obligations.
The Edge/Khiara Survey has been sent to a cross-section of UK firms, ranging from provincial four-partner practices to magic circle firms. The survey itself is anonymous, although firms may give data about the number of partners, location and number of offices. This will allow firms to benchmark their proposed procedures with those of a similar risk profile.
Once the survey has been submitted, participants are eligible to request a full copy of the resulting COLP/COFA Benchmarking Report. To take part in the survey, which is open until 17 May 2012, click here .
Since the SRA maintains that it will not give ‘safe harbour’ rulings on compliance issues, firms will need to rely on the development of market practice for guidance. Initiatives such as the independent industry Edge/Khiara Survey will undoubtedly give firms this valuable insight, and Legal Futures will have exclusive media access to an analysis of the results and recommendations of good practice from experts at Edge International and Khiara Law LLP.
The analysis and recommendations will be undertaken by Chris Bull of Edge International and Rachel Khiara of Khiara Law LLP, both recognised as leading experts in the professional practices sector, and advisers to all kinds of legal services businesses, including alternative business structures.
Chris Bull was a finance director and chief operating officer at a leading UK law firm and advises firms on the implementation of the COFA obligations and how to integrate them into their business structures. Rachel Khiara has 15 years’ experience in the partnerships and regulatory sector, as a partner at Addleshaw Goddard LLP and counsel at Allen & Overy LLP, and sat on the SRA’s OFR/ABS industry advisory committee.