The Solicitors Regulation Authority has revealed plans to move away from publishing weighty reports in favour of bitesize chunks of online information in response to criticism of its approach to transparency.
In January, the oversight regulator Legal Services Board said the SRA was not sufficiently transparent and needed to show how it planned to improve this.
In June, the SRA confirmed that it would continue to hold board meetings in private, having reviewed its arrangements to ensure solicitors are kept informed about how the board makes decisions. Instead it proposed to update progress on social media and provide more information about the basis for policy-making.
In a paper for last month's board meeting, the SRA goes into more detail about its plans, which include publishing a statement that explains how it is accountable, with an associated transparency policy and decision-making framework.
Social media will enable real-time reporting from board meetings and regular sharing of information, with a new landing page on the SRA website to guide people to video, blog and podcast content.
The SRA also vows to make its publications more accessible by moving away from hard copy publications such as the annual review, in favour of more targeted communications.
Fuller board minutes and more board papers will be published, albeit with redactions for confidential information.
The July board paper reiterates that board meetings will remain closed to the public, but on this occasion says that such an approach ‘would not enhance accountability unless there is considerable investment in making it a valuable and attractive experience for a wide range of stakeholders’.
The paper adds: ‘The emphasis should be on better ways of providing accessible, meaningful and contextualised information about how the board works and makes its decisions, so that people from every community can easily find what they need at a time and in a way that suits them.’
The SRA has come under pressure in recent months, not least because it has imposed more requirements on law firms to be open about pricing and complaints history.