City firms push for greater autonomy on regulation

City law firms are throwing their weight behind David Clementi’s B-model of legal regulation ahead of the Law Society Council meeting this Thursday (22 April).

Law Society chief executive Janet Paraskeva and president Peter Williamson have been taking soundings from City firms as part of the Law Society’s comprehensive roadshow, which has seen representatives meet with over 1000 UK solicitors.

The B-model favoured by City firms involves limited reform, whereby regulatory functions would be retained by the Law Society, but overseen by a central regulator.

However, Paraskeva told The Lawyer that City firms would prefer a variation on the B-model that provides them with a greater degree of autonomy. It is proposed that while High Street firms would continue to be regulated directly by the Law Society, City firms would implement the reforms themselves. The Law Society would then audit firms to ensure compliance.

Thursday’s meeting will assess the results of the Law Society’s consultation with its members to finalise its response to Clementi’s proposed reforms.

Paraskeva hit back at claims the Law Society was an “irrelevance” to City firms, saying: “That view is held by those who only see the Law Society as a consumer complaints mechanism.” Just five seats on the Law Society Council reflect City practices.

“The regulatory framework must allow City firms to keep practising internationally and to keep bringing in billions of pounds. We’re trying to make sure that framework does not get in the way of the fast footwork City firms need to make to operate at the highest international level,” said Paraskeva.

Clementi has said that his recommendations will be delivered on time, before the end of December.