We’re not making this up.
A Law Society survey produced in July 2011 found that 11% of small law firms expect to close or merge as a result of the cost of compliance.
As all sole practitioners, independent Lawyers and smaller law firms know, it’s enough of a challenge to keep heads above water in such a difficult market.
Let’s face it, the timing of the introduction of COLP and COFA couldn’t be worse.
Smallest Hit Hardest
The real problem is that the The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) haven’t considered the disproportionate effect that the cost of compliance will have on smaller practices.
Smaller firms have to comply with everything that applies to much larger firms – but with a fraction of the resources.
It’s not just the new 500-page Outcomes-Focused SRA Handbook, it’s the raft of rules, regulations and legislation that apply to all businesses.
And it doesn’t end there: firms that do conveyancing work also need to achieve membership of the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS), while for those that do publicly funded work, it’s the Specialist Quality Mark. There may also be external pressures to achieve Lexcel accreditation.
Larger firms can more easily afford to employ people just to do compliance; as a smaller firm, independent lawyer or sole practitioner, you have to do it on top of everything else. Get it wrong and you face disciplinary action, complaints publication, COLP/ COFA disqualification, rising PII premiums, civil fines or even imprisonment.
So What’s The Answer?
Well, one option might be to pay an external consultant.
But quite apart from the cost, it’s not possible for any firm to transfer their COLP and COFA obligations to a third party. So while you can get external help with compliance, ultimate responsibility rests with the compliance officers – that means you.
A Problem Shared…
For the many smaller firms that value their identity and autonomy, perhaps it’s time to work together to share the compliance burden.
With the right information, a clear plan can be put together and the responsibilities shared out, leaving you free to spend more time on what what you do best: delivering a quality legal service.
We want to help you do just that.
We’ve put together a paper that tells you what you need to know to start taking action, now. We’re proud of it and we don’t mind saying so.
It’s the definitive Compliance Thrival Guide for sole practitioners, independent lawyers and smaller firms. It has all the information you need to help take the sting out compliance for you in 2013.
It will show you the first ten areas of compliance that you need to look at – taking into account the SRA’s own priorities, what’s new and what’s changed. If ten firms banded together, each firm could produce sample policies and procedures in one area of compliance, which would massively reduce the burden across the group.
Oh, and it’s free.
As well as giving you the information you need to make a start, we’re going to make it easier for you to find other firms to share the leg work with.
Just register for the Comply or Die report – it’s available for immediate download.
Once you’ve registered, we’ll email you a little later to see if you’d be interested in sharing the work with other firms. If you are, then we’ll give everyone willing to work collaboratively with each other on the compliance problem the opportunity to contact each other.
Talking to the neighbours could also uncover opportunities to cross-refer work or bulk-buy external products and services.
But there’s no obligation, you can just grab the report and start putting it into action.