The Solicitors Regulation Authority is to review its ‘tone of voice’ as it seeks to change how it communicates with practitioners, its chief executive said today.
Paul Philip (pictured) told the COLPs and COFAs conference in Birmingham that the regulator will spend the next year reviewing key issues such as client accounts, professional indemnity insurance and training.
But one of the biggest changes - and areas that solicitors will notice change - will be in the nature of correspondence arriving from the SRA.
‘Letters from us should be tonally different in the months and years to come,’ he said. ‘[We want] a far more conciliatory and adult style in the way we talk to the profession.’
Philip said cutting bureaucracy in the organisation remains a priority for the next year, admitting that non-solicitors ‘laugh at me’ when he explains that practitioners are subject to 470 pages of rules.
’We want much more focus on an outcomes-based regulator and not a rule-based regulator - eventually this will lead to a consultation.’
Philip said the SRA currently authorises 400 alternative business structures but he predicted there will come a time when most legal services providers are an ABS.
And he addressed the ongoing issue of what place lawyers will have in the future of the legal services market – particularly after the comments of the lord chief justice last week that the justice system should adapt to life without lawyers.
‘We are not looking at a world without lawyers but lawyers are business people first and lawyers second,’ said Philip. ‘Just as you need to adapt so the SRA needs to adapt as well. Our focus has been on listening.
‘There is no such thing as a legal profession or a legal market. There are various solicitors working in different markets facing different challenges on a day-to-day basis. The SRA needs to think whether the model of one-size-fits-all is correct.’