On 25 November 2019 the SRA’s published its new Standards & Regulations (STARs) and it has got people talking. Not just because STAR puns in legal are fun (they are), and not because the new rules dramatically change regulatory obligations (they don’t). In fact, as Crispin Passmore, former SRA director and legal consultant says, “The case for worrying is low”. So what’s all the fuss about? As Passmore explains in his blog, A STAR is born, the new rules matter because “They offer solicitors, law firms and legal business levels of freedom, flexibility and opportunity that are unprecedented in our legal market.”
Are you excited? You should be and let me tell you why.
The STARs introduce a number of new rules – from new rules on reporting concerns about regulatory breaches to the chance to use a third-party managed account in lieu of a client account. But, as Passmore says in his blog, the opportunities you should really be excited about are as follows.
- First, solicitors now have more flexibility about where and how they practice. They can be freelance, or part of an unregulated organisation. Up until today this has been all but impossible,
- Second, law firms can operate in different ways – they can re-think whether they need to be regulated.
- Third, unregulated businesses can think in less binary terms about their service offering.
Why should I care?
You should care about these new rules if you want the opportunity to make your business competitive in this changing market.
Most firms won’t need, or have the desire, to make any changes to their business practices. They will continue to employ the same sort of people and make the same sort of investment decisions. They will deliver legal services in the same way they always have.
But there are others, as Passmore says, doing things differently – from us at Legl re-thinking client acquisition and onboarding, to Farewill re-thinking will writing. And the big difference between what we’re doing compared to the more traditional law firms is our customer-centric approach to the delivery of legal services. Everything we do at Legl is about giving lawyers the tools to improve their clients’ experience, while at the same time helping law firms run their businesses more efficiently.
And now, as Passmore says, thanks to the STARs for the first time, “lawyers and firms have a regulator that genuinely gives them the freedom to find new ways to meet their clients’ needs, to design and deliver services that are imaginative.”
And it’s not just the delivery of legal services, it’s also about using technology to change your perspective on things like AML risk. As Passmore explains in his blog AML – risk and opportunity there are companies, like Legl, which are creating products and services that help law firms deal with these issues positively – turning managing risk into an opportunity for a business to be competitive.
Now what? The SRA is giving you more freedom to better meet your clients’ needs. What do you next? We suggest you start by simply considering these two questions:
- How can I use technology to improve my clients’ experience and help me meet regulatory obligations?
- How can I better use data to inform decisions? As Passmore said, the Legal Services Board “identified data as key to making the market attractive and responsive”.
The legal market is changing. The STARs are a great reminder, and give you another opportunity, with support from companies like Legl, to adopt a customer-centric approach to delivering legal services which will ultimately help you win and retain more business, reduce costs and increase profitability in this competitive market.