The Solicitors Regulation Authority is hoping to publish guidance for employers to support in-house solicitors to comply with their regulatory duties by the end of the year, local government lawyers heard today.
The guidance has been drafted after a thematic review conducted by the regulator found that one in 10 in-house solicitors felt their regulatory obligations were compromised trying to meet their organisation’s priorities and one in 10 in-house solicitors did not have enough time to maintain their continuing competence.
The Lawyers in Local Government’s governance conference heard today that the SRA is currently working on four pieces of guidance addressing issues raised in the review – with the guidance for employers coming out first and hopefully this year.
Chris Handford, the SRA’s director of regulatory policy, said the regulator had been informed that legal teams do not necessarily control their own training budgets and the broader organisation does not necessarily realise the professional development and regulatory obligations that their solicitors have.
‘That’s one of the things we will be trying to address through our employer guidance, making clear having your in-house solicitor is great, but for them to do their job and meet their expectations there needs to be the time and budget to do that,’ Handford said.
LLG chief executive Deborah Evans told Handford and SRA policy manager Natalie Darby that training budgets were slashed after the mandatory 16-hour continuing professional development (CPD) requirement was scrapped and that the decline in training budgets has been a ‘significant issue’ for local authorities.
Further SRA guidance published early next year will cover identifying the client and managing instructions, conducting internal investigations, and reporting client wrongdoing.