SRA corporate strategy 2020/23 consultation – Law Society response

The proposals

The SRA proposes to focus its strategy on three key objectives:

Setting and maintaining high standards for the profession and the SRA

The SRA proposes to achieve this objective by:

  • changing the way people enter the profession by the introduction of the new Solicitors Qualifying Examination by 2023
  • embedding the new SRA Standards and Regulations, better information work and enforcement strategy, monitoring the impact to ensure that they are delivering their intended outcomes
  • monitoring diversity data and working with others to encourage continual improvement
  • developing regulation on money laundering and financial crime in response to identified risks
  • continually improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the way that the SRA works and embracing technology where appropriate

Technology and innovation

The SRA proposes to achieve this objective by:

  • building its understanding of technology, its impact on the legal services sector, the benefits and risks for the users of legal services and its implications for the SRA’s regulation
  • monitoring developments in the regulation of technology across all sectors, learning from the experience of others and collaborating/partnering where appropriate
  • being an active member of the Better Regulation Executive’s Regulator Forum, Innovation Network and other appropriate groups
  • building its understanding of the unmet needs of users, including the most vulnerable, and working with providers and innovators to help to address these needs
  • working through SRA Innovate and more widely to support innovative approaches to providing legal services, including technological developments

Anticipating and responding to change

The SRA proposes to achieve this objective by:

  • conducting horizon scanning to build its understanding of the implications of social, political, economic and environmental pressures in the legal sector
  • keeping abreast of developments in regulation across the legal and other sectors, including internationally
  • deepening its understanding of consumer concerns and requirements
  • working with regulators and agencies across key sectors to identify and address public protection and access challenges, working in partnership to find solutions.
  • developing its position as an authoritative commentator in line with the regulatory objectives the SRA has a duty to promote
  • raising public awareness of legal services and how to use them

Our views

We're broadly supportive of the SRA’s strategic aims but stress the need to maintain focus on promoting the public interest and a strong, independent and diverse legal profession.

We welcome the SRA’s emphasis on collaboration and engagement with representative bodies and regulated communities.

Closer collaboration and more joined-up working are especially important in the course of implementation of significant regulatory reforms such as the new SRA Standards and Regulations (STARs), Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) and other wider industry regulations.

We also encouraged the SRA to engage closely with us in the development of lawtech work.

We play an active role in promoting technological innovation in the legal sector and the opportunities it can offer to enhance the way solicitors work and the service they provide to clients. It's important that the SRA works in partnership with us to prevent duplication.

Given the level of regulatory changes, we asked the SRA to provide adequate guidance and assistance to practitioners and law firms, and set out what good looks like, to support the profession in compliance and ensure that high standards are maintained.

We supported the SRA’s commitment to drive improvements in its operational services.

However, we suggested that the SRA should set itself clear and transparent performance criteria to measure the effectiveness of its work.

The SRA should also conduct more robust impact assessments to demonstrate how its strands of work and regulatory changes deliver the regulatory objectives set out in the Legal Services Act 2007.

Next steps

The consultation closed on 23 January 2020.

The SRA will be publishing its new strategy after analysing responses from stakeholders.

Read the consultation on the SRA website

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