Giving the green light to freelance solicitors, on the 5th November 2018 the Legal Services Board, approved the application of the Solicitors Regulation Authority ("SRA") for amendments to its regulatory arrangements in respect of its Looking to the Future reforms (which we discuss in detail here).
A Monumental Shift in the Profession
The crux of the reforms proposed by the SRA allows solicitors to provide unreserved legal services via an unregulated firm (therefore acting as freelance solicitors). Currently, qualified solicitors may only practice as such through an SRA regulated firm or when working in house. This monumental reform means that solicitors may set up and act through their own legal services companies. There will be no need to obtain SRA approval or obtain SRA approved professional indemnity cover. In fact no level of insurance is prescribed, only a requirement to be transparent with the client as to what protections are available.
The reforms will be implemented in the new version of the SRA Handbook to be published in April 2019. This version of the handbook has been reduced in size by almost two thirds and contains a new section which will apply to all solicitors personally, in addition to rules applicable only to SRA regulated firms.
Legal Services Board
Legal Services Board Chair , Dr Helen Phillips said via an announcement on the LSB website:
“The Board welcomes the SRA's move to modernise its regulatory arrangements and make them more accessible. In addition to likely benefits to access to justice, promoting competition and the public interest, we considered that there was some merit in the SRA's argument that these changes could be seen to increase consumer protection, given that many consumers already use unregulated providers and in doing so receive no regulatory protections.
We are fully aware of the significance of these changes. Our decision notice sets out a clear expectation for the SRA to monitor impact. In the event that its monitoring identifies risks materialising in practice, we will expect the SRA to take action."
On Hand to Help Freelance Solicitors
In our opinion, these reforms are crucial, are badly needed and clarify a huge grey area within the profession. In time they will increase access to skilled, professional solicitors and allow solicitors to practice in new an exciting ways.
As the impact of the rule changes take effect, we are on hand to help you through the set up process of becoming a freelance solicitor. Our platform www.freelance.legal should be an essential part of your referral network. We can help to secure consistent and interesting work for your new legal services business. Contact us if you would like to discuss in more detail.
Let the revolution continue. We live in exciting times!