The SRA came under fire last year for allegedly ‘understating the severity’ of the risks faced by the 34,500 solicitors who work in-house. In a response posted on LinkedIn, 19 general counsel criticised chief executive Paul Philip for describing the findings of the regulator’s in-house review as ‘generally encouraging’. ‘[This] does not reflect the collective experience in-house or what was communicated by and to a number of us during the review, and it offers insufficient action and support in addressing concerns,’ they complained.

Paul Rogerson

Paul Rogerson

Some findings, such as half of GCs feeling isolated and 64% not raising their regulatory duties with client-employers, ‘should be a real cause for concern’, the response added.

The irruption of the Post Office scandal into the public consciousness only increased the pressure on the SRA to address this allegation of seeming complacency. So the regulator’s publication of a raft of resources to support in-housers ahead of last week's conference did not come too soon. The guidance covers the issues of identifying clients when working in-house, reporting concerns about wrongdoing and running internal investigations.

Crucially, there is also useful arm’s-length guidance for employers outlining a solicitor’s professional obligations.

Professor Richard Moorhead, chronicler and analyst of the role of lawyers in the Post Office scandal, told a Legal Services Board conference this month that the in-house community was ‘crying out’ for more direction on how to be compliant and stay independent in the face of employer pressure.

So what does Moorhead think? ‘I welcome the SRA’s work here,’ he told me. ‘I’ve been calling for such work for some time, and it’s good to see the Post Office scandal, and concerns about the SRA’s thematic review, adding to the impetus for action. They have covered several of the most key areas that need addressing. And it is important too that they are consulting on the guidance. The content of that guidance will bear close scrutiny and thought, but these are positive steps.’

The Law Society is more cautious: ‘This is a good start, but further guidance and detail is needed to ensure the in-house community is adequately supported to navigate these challenges,’ it said.

What that further guidance might entail will doubtless be enumerated during the consultation. Over to you, general counsel.