The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has completed the consultation process in relation to its ‘Looking to the Future reform’ programme. This process started in 2014 and its implementation will have some far reaching consequences for solicitors in England & Wales. The most exciting development is in relation to freelancing as a lawyer – increasing access to solicitors.
What is the SRA ‘Looking to the Future programme’?
In the words of the SRA:
We want to make: (i) our rules focus on what matters – high professional standards; (ii) it easier for the public to access legal services; and (iii) it easier for solicitors and firms to do business.
One of the driving reasons behind the reforms is that too many people and businesses cannot access the legal services they need due to high costs and a lack of information.
The SRA proposals were split over four different major consultations with the most interesting being the Phase One: Handbook Reforms which removes the ban on solicitors working in business that are not regulated law firms.
The Phase One Handbook Reforms
The Phase One reforms are far reaching and:
- permit solicitors to provide non-reserved legal services on a freelance basis outside of an SRA regulated law firm so long as they are at least 3 years qualified, have indemnity insurance, and so long as they don’t hold client money; and
- opportunities for solicitors to do non-reserved legal work in business which are not SRA regulated.
In both situations the solicitors themselves will need need to comply with a separate code of conduct which applies to them personally.
Timeframe for Implementation
Change is coming! But not at great pace… The next step is for the Legal Services Board to approve the reforms. The SRA believes that implementation of all of the reforms will happen from the end of 2018 through to 2019.
What does it mean for solicitors?
Once the rule changes are fully implemented, then solicitors in England & Wales will be able to take back control of their careers and work freelance for both law firms, and crucially for their own clients.
The only remaining key barrier to going solo will be yourself. Do you have what it takes? Can you find enough work to maintain the lifestyle you want? With the help of platforms like freelance.legal you can and the possibilities are endless.
Apply to join us now and we can help you through the process of taking the leap to becoming a freelance lawyer on our platform.