Law Society to review regulation for top firms

The Law Society has commissioned a review which could see solicitors at large corporate firms fall under a separate regulatory regime from those on the high-street.

The profession-wide review of solicitor’s regulation and will also specifically examine whether the existing Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and Law Society regulatory structures are suitable for the risks associated with corporate law firms and their clients.

A Law Society spokesperson said: “The project will look at the whole profession to see if they need different regulation and assess what kind of regulation they need.”

Clifford Chance general counsel Chris Perrin described the move as “sensible.”

“I think it’s sensible for the Law Society to initiate the review, both the wider review and specifically on the regulation of large law firms,” he said.

“They might conclude that the current rules might not be appropriate for very large firms, which might reflect not just their size but also nature of their clients.”

Large corporations which have large in-house legal department, would not be as vulnerable as consumers on the high street, he explained.

Perrin said that there could be several possible outcomes to the review. These could conclude that the regulation of large law firms should be separated out to a different part of the SRA or even to a separate regulator to the SRA, or tthat everything was fine as it currently stood, he said.

The review will be carried out externally but will be supported by a reference group chaired by Law Society vice president Bob Heslett which will include representatives of large corporate firms and their clients.