I still prefer a book I can hold in my hand. The advantage of a website is that it is (ideally) updated regularly. But a book can be put on a bookshelf and can give the owner at least the appearance of being knowledgeable. Most, if not all, of the contents of this handbook are available online and the SRA produces an email newsletter. To be safe you probably need access to all three.

Just under £40 is not too expensive for a legal book.

Regulation used to be a matter of the senior partner having a slim file of complaint letters and an annual lunch with the accountants. Now, we are ‘outcomes-focused’ and regulation is much more of a responsibility which is shared across firms among fee-earners and non-fee-earners. The SRA Handbook sets out the standards and requirements the SRA expects solicitors to achieve for the benefit of the clients they serve.

Like them or loathe them, the rules are there to protect us as well as the public and to foster our independence to deliver the services we want. Not being up to date is not an option.

It is clear there have been a lot of changes over the last year, which makes this new edition essential reading. We now have prohibited referral fees. We also have the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates. Non-material breaches no longer have to be reported. The message about prohibited referral fees does not seem to be getting through, as I still get emails from outfits trying to pass me details of potential claimants.

This book includes the Code of Conduct, accounts rules authorisation and practising requirements. There is a helpful glossary, but a full index would be useful in place of the very short alphabetical index of headings. For example, if you want to look up ‘referral fees’ under ‘referrals’ the index says: see SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

And further down under that heading you are pointed to the correct chapter, but not the exact section or page number.

Regulation is a subject where the reader needs easy access to reliable information, as lawyers will want to dip into this book looking for guidance on a specific issue. Having said that, the combination of essential rules in one up-to-date book makes this book vital for practitioners.

Solicitors Regulation Authority

£39.95, Law Society Publishing

David Pickup is senior partner at Aylesbury-based Pickup & Scott