Two solicitors have opted to register their niche family practice as a Bar Standards Board entity, joining others in using the new model to switch regulators.
The Gazette understands that Evolve Family Law is the third business to adopt the BSB entity model rather than regulation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and the first to make the switch as a traditional law firm.
Evolve, a limited company, was set up by Robin Charrot (pictured), a former partner at Mills & Reeve, and Louise Halford, a former partner at Irwin Mitchell.
Charrot told the Gazette that one of the attractions for opting to become a BSB-regulated entity was its lighter regulatory touch. The firm has no plans to hire a barrister.
'We had years of dealing with the SRA within our previous law firms and we have found it to be a bit difficult,’ he said, adding that the BSB rulebook was a lot easier to digest.
Other attractions were that the BSB was more ‘user-friendly’, had a faster authorisation process and offered much lower application and renewal fees.
But unlike others who have praised the BSB for its access to the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund, Charrot said that he was ‘not convinced’ the fund offered better value for money.
‘We are expecting to be able to go to the open market when it comes to renewal at the end of March,’ he said.
Regulation by the BSB means that the firm cannot hold client money. The two solicitors opted not to use Barco, the client account run by the Bar Council, as they felt the fees were too high for the service offered.
But Charrot said he thought the firm could manage without a client account, as it could instead do agreed fee work. He said this was ‘much better for our clients as they get price certainty and it is good for our cashflow.’
Charrot and Halford are both directors at Evolve. The firm also currently employs one paralegal, with a second paralegal due to join at the beginning of October.
An SRA spokesperson said: ‘Numerous legal services professionals who are regulated by other bodies have chosen the SRA to authorise their business, so it is natural for the reverse to happen from time to time.
‘If the BSB’s regulatory regime better suits this firm’s business model, then it is free to choose the BSB as its regulator.
‘Our role is protect in the public interest and while we are constantly looking to reduce unnecessary rules that do not support that role, the robustness of our regulation does attract other legal services professionals to seek authorisation from us.’