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Freelance solicitors

11 September 2019

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is introducing new regulations that will enable solicitors to work and offer services to the public in different ways, outside of the traditional legal entity models.

This practice note focuses on the freelance solicitors’ model. This way of working is a new practice pathway that did not previously exist for solicitors.

Legal status

This practice note is the Law Society’s view of good practice in this area.

Practice notes are issued by the Law Society for the use and benefit of its members. They represent the Law Society’s view of good practice in a particular area. They are not intended to be the only standard of good practice that solicitors can follow. You are not required to follow them, but doing so will make it easier to account to regulators for your actions.

Practice notes are not legal advice, nor do they necessarily provide a defence to complaints of misconduct or of inadequate professional service. While care has been taken to ensure that they are accurate, up to date and useful, the Law Society will not accept any legal liability in relation to them.

For queries or comments on this practice note, contact the Law Society’s Practice Advice Service.

SRA Standards and Regulations

On 25 November 2019, the SRA will introduce the SRA Standards and Regulations 2019. These will replace the SRA Handbook (2011) which will remain in force until then.

References in this practice note are to the SRA Standards and Regulations 2019 as the rules relating to SRA-regulated freelance solicitors come into force alongside the SRA Standards and Regulations 2019.

Solicitors can access the forthcoming SRA Standards and Regulations 2019 materials and guidance on the SRA’s beta website. These materials are regularly being updated so you should check them frequently.

We are developing our own materials to support members with this new regime and our guidance is likely to evolve.

Terminology

Must – A specific requirement in legislation or of a principle, rule or other mandatory provision in the SRA Standards and Regulations 2019. You have to comply, unless there are specific exemptions or defences provided for in relevant legislation or the SRA Standards and Regulations 2019.

Should – Outside of a regulatory context, good practice for most situations in the Law Society’s view.
In the case of the SRA Standards and Regulations 2019 it is likely to be an indicative approach which may not be the only means of complying with the legislation or regulatory requirements.
There may be, for example, circumstances where the suggested route is not the best possible route to meet the needs of the court, the interests of justice, the public interest and the needs of your client. However, if you do not follow the suggested route, you should be able to justify to the regulator why the alternative approach you have taken is appropriate, lawful and complies with the SRA Standards and Regulations 2019 including the underlying ethical obligations which arise either in your practice or in relation to the particular retainer involved.

May – A non-exhaustive list of options for meeting your obligations. Which option you choose is determined by the profile of the individual practice, client or retainer. You might be required to justify why this was an appropriate option to your regulator.

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Practice Advice Service

The Practice Advice Service provides a dedicated support line for Law Society members and employees of law firms. Call us on 020 7320 5675.

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