Thursday, July 1, 2010

Report from London Law Firm Risk Management Conference

Managing Partner Magazine hosted a law firm risk management event a few weeks ago in London. A good deal of discussion focused on the new outcome-focused approach the Solicitors Regulation Authority is now taking.

As part of this change, the SRA is replacing an exhaustive list of rules with a short guide that includes 10 high-level principles. Under this regime, the onus will fall on firms to conduct self-audits and self-reporting. The principles include:
  1. Uphold the rule of law and proper administration of Justice
  2. Act with Integrity
  3. Do not allow your independence to be compromised
  4. Act in best interest of each client
  5. Provide a proper standard of service to clients
  6. Behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services
  7. Comply with your legal and regulatory obligations and deal with your regulators in an open, timely and co-operative manner
  8. Run your business and carry out your business effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles
  9. Promote diversity and equality in your business and do not discriminate
  10. Protect client money and assets
This approach will provide firms with greater freedom to self-regulate. But, it’s likely the SRA will take a harder stance on organisations with compliance problems. As several conference attendees commented, this translates into greater requirements for firm responsibility and requires enhanced risk management practices.

Other topics of note included a panel discussion focusing on the value of compliance standards. One presentation reviewed the ISO 27001 and other information security and confidentiality management standards. An increasing number of firms are moving to obtain some level of certification for several reasons. Top of the list is client expectations -- clients are increasingly undertaking rigorous procurement processes and focusing on specific firm standards and practices.

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