Solicitors’ regulator confirms focus on diversity, inclusion and technology

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has published its 2021/22 business plan and budget, which shows it's prioritising anti-money laundering (AML), diversity, inclusion, technology and innovation, which are key priorities for the Law Society.

“We are pleased to see the SRA is prioritising its work and resources on its core regulatory function – ensuring high professional standards of competence,” said Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce.

“We will continue to work closely with the SRA on implementing the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), AML, diversity, inclusion and technology and innovation, which align with the Law Society’s priorities.”

Solicitor advocacy

Through 2021 and 2022, the SRA will continue to assure its advocacy standards, as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the role solicitors play when they represent members of the public within the civil and criminal justice systems.

I. Stephanie Boyce said: “We are supportive of proposals which seek to assure the quality of solicitor advocacy and ensure robust professional standards.

“There is also greater detail around the SRA’s plans to provide support and resources to help solicitors assure the quality of their advocacy, and we look forward to assisting our members in undertaking the relevant steps with regards to training and development once these resources are available.”

Technology and innovation

The SRA is also looking to expand its alliances with companies involved in LawTech. Namely, through its participation in the Agile Nations initiative, which is a collaboration of innovative countries which are seeking to establish a global legal market for access to justice.

The solicitors’ regulator has also had a successful bid to the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund – which helps create a UK regulatory environment which encourages business innovation – where it will use LawTech to address regional inequalities in access to justice.

I. Stephanie Boyce added: “The Law Society has been helping its members adopt and embrace technology by supporting them with the technology they already have and assisting them with finding new technology which is right for their business.

“In many cases, these new technologies are also helping to address unmet legal need and provide innovative solutions for access to justice.

“We have also unveiled a set of principles and guidance on LawTech, ethics and rule of law, which serve to satisfy the ethical best practice to which solicitors are bound and help LawTech developers match their products with this best practice.

“We support the SRA looking to innovation and the adoption of technology to help the public access justice.”

Climate and environmental change

In the ever growing fight against climate change, the SRA will consider the impact of environmental, social and governance upon the profession, as well as the legal sector’s response to climate change.

In October, we published a climate change resolution to support both individual solicitors and the companies or firms they work for to develop a climate-conscious approach to legal practice.

“The resolution is our public commitment to develop plans and take rapid action to restrict global warming by adopting science-based targets for our own business operations. Over the next year, we’ll provide the profession with guidance on how to take climate change into consideration when advising clients and providing legal services,” said I. Stephanie Boyce.

“We’re committed to taking action on climate change. This is no longer just the preserve of environmental lawyers. It’s already fundamentally impacting all areas of law, business, and society. For solicitors, it is beginning to affect how our businesses are run and how we provide legal services.

“The only way to achieve the goals set out by world leaders and the UK government is through collective action.”

Notes to editors

Read about the SRA’s 2021/22 business plan and budget consultation

Read our full consultation response

Read about the Agile Nations Charter

Read about the projects selected for the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund

Read our climate change resolution

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contacts: Naomi Jeffreys | 020 8049 3928

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