He faces flack from both solicitors and the public, yet Peter Ross is looking forward to giving his all as director of the Solicitors Complaints Bureau. Communication, he tells Helen Sage, will be the key
One week into his job as director of the Solicitors Complaints Bureau and Peter Ross is still smiling.
He left his post as assistant chief crown prosecutor for what his predecessor, Veronica Lowe, described as the “worst job in law”.
He can look forward to being attacked by the public for being too soft on solicitors and by solicitors for failing to understand them and caving in to public pressure.
In a recent Lawyer survey of solicitors, 67 per cent wanted to see an end to self-regulation altogether.
It seems they would rather take the chance of submitting to an external complaints handling body than the dreaded SCB.
But, against all the odds, Ross expresses confidence about the future. He said: “In general I do not think we have a profession which is unapproachable or complacent and self-regulation will always be the hallmark of the profession.”
Communication is at the heart of his strategy. “We need to change how we communicate with the profession and the public in order to help solicitors do their job properly,” he said.
He plans the introduction of a quarterly information bulletin and increased dialogue with law societies and consumer associations.
As well as attempting to restore public confidence in the solicitor, Ross will oversee a revamp of the SCB which, from September, will be known as the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors.
The name change aims to bring the unsung areas of the SCB's work to the attention of the public. Ross wants the new body to be acknowledged as an all-round regulator of the profession rather than just a complaints handling process.
“The SCB title does not reflect the positive work we do. That is not to say complaints are necessarily negative – they provide a valuable source of information about oneself and ones practice,” he explained.
Ross is sure he can instill his own confidence in the profession into the minds of the public. He said: “Our job is to protect the foundation of the profession so that the clients have the confidence to trust it.”