Whilst compliance may not be the most riveting of subjects, it is vitally important for law firms of any size, no matter what type of work you do.
The number of different bodies to which compliance officers must answer has grown exponentially, as has the complexity of the compliance obligations. The good news is – you don’t need to face this on your own.
We can either provide someone to take on all the specific compliance roles in your organisation or someone to assist, if you would rather retain the formal role in-house. These include the following roles:
- Compliance Officer for Legal Practice (COLP)
- Compliance Officer for Finance Administration (COFA)
- Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO)
- Data Protection Officer (DPO)
The SRA can come knocking at any time and the Legal Aid Agency provides a steady stream of audit requests that need to be handled professionally, promptly and robustly. The stakes can be very high – the SRA can impose disciplinary action or even remove a firm’s recognised body status. And with legal aid audits, you can end up with the prospect of them recouping significant sums of money which you have already relied on to support your business.
We can stand by your side and help navigate you through any audit and investigation. We have experience of successfully negotiating audits of all kinds and putting the strongest possible case back to the regulators. As important, though, is the personal reassurance that we can provide you with. It can be very unsettling to be held to account by the SRA or LAA – but we can put everything into its proper context for you, to help avoid any unnecessary anxiety.
Client complaint handling
Perhaps a notch down on the anxiety scale, is having to deal with the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) regarding client complaints. But it is still a relationship that has be managed with care and skill. In fact, being able to put yourself in the LeO’s shoes is an important way of avoiding client complaints being escalated in the first place. If you can anticipate the outcome of a LeO investigation into a complaint, it is the best way of framing a response to any client complaint. Sometimes a client will insist on taking the matter to the LeO in any event. But if the LeO validates your complaints process, it is both:
- cheaper – the fee for a LeO investigation into a complaint is often waived in such circumstances; and
- better for your ongoing risk profile.The information regarding both the number of complaints, but also the number upheld, is an increasingly public set of data – and is likely to become more so as time goes on.
In these circumstances, we can act as the COLP or we can assist your internal COLP every step of the way as they build their own experience in facing these regulatory challenges.