Small firms

Top tips for avoiding becoming the victim of financial crime

Small firms may be forgiven for thinking that it is only larger firms who do business in ‘interesting’ jurisdictions which are targeted by financial criminals. However, other individuals involved in financial crime pose a real risk to small firms

There are several ways in which your firm can be affected by financial crime:

  • your firm may be a victim of financial crime
  • your firm may be targeted by criminals to facilitate financial crime
  • your firm may become involved in an offence as a result of conduct by your staff or management team

We know that you have limited time and resources to devote to financial crime prevention, which is why we provide a range of services and advice tailored for different areas of work and firm size.

Key risk areas


Whether you act for private individuals, local businesses or large companies, it is increasingly likely that you will come into contact with the international sanctions regime.

All firms need to ensure that they are complying with sanctions, which means that you need to think about who your clients are and understand how sanctions could apply to them. For a short article on how sanctions could be relevant to you, read Sanctions - have you checked the list?  Chapter 4.11 of the AML practice note provides further information about sanctions.


The Bribery Act 2010 applies to bribery and corruption at a local level as well as internationally. Two major corruption prosecutions against solicitors in the UK resulted from activities in two-partners firms, so it is essential that you understand the risks in this area. Further information about the provisions of the anti-bribery legislation and how you can comply with it can be found at:

Money laundering and terrorist financing

All firms must comply with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CTF) legislation to avoid being misused by criminals and the criminal, civil, regulatory and reputational consequences that follow.

The Law Society helps you to keep up-to-date with emerging risks and offers practical support so that you can develop effective systems to navigate any AML/CTF crisis your firm faces.


The Law Society provides a wide range of tools and information to support you in complying with AML/CTF legislation and to help you protect your firm from financial crime.

AML practice note

The AML practice note  is a comprehensive guide to the AML/CTF legislation and what you are required to do. You may also find the practice notes on mortgage fraud, bribery and property and registration fraud  helpful.

Practice Advice Service

The Law Society’s Practice Advice Service provides free and confidential advice on several topics, including anti-money laundering. Practice Advice is open from 09:00 to 17:00 Monday to Friday and can be reached on 0870 606 2522.


Our regular ‘Help! I’m a New MLRO’ feature that looks at some of the challenges facing MLROs and provides practical tips on meeting AML/CTF obligations. Other articles can be found on our website.  

AML e-forum

Our online space where you can discuss AML issues and questions with other MLROs. Please email for details of how to join.

Networking and training

  • MLRO networking groups
  • AML training.

Anti-money laundering toolkit

This practical step-by-step guide takes you through risk assessments, setting up systems and checking that those systems work.

Risk and Compliance Service

Our Risk and Compliance Service can visit your firm and give you a free AML health-check. They can also provide tailored training on financial crime prevention for your staff.

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