57% of Small Law Firms completely unprepared for reforms

57% of Small Law Firms completely unprepared for reforms

Despite industry wide publicity and constant speculation, a recent report has claimed that 57% of small law firms remain ‘completely unprepared’ for December’s reforms or had no idea that there were any proposed changes.

The report, carried out by analytics specialists LexusNexis UK, outlines a range of concerns posed by small law firms in the UK.

58% of respondents believe that the SRA have poorly represented small and independent law firms in the reform proposals.

Of those questioned, 70% were worried that reforms could prevent regulated firms from competing with unregulated solicitors. Additionally, the same percentage believed that the changes will result in legal standards declining instead of the intended improvements in price and service.

A major concern levied at regulators, regards the perceived changes to a legal service professional’s job. 64% now view law as a job rather than a profession with 46% referring to themselves as business people, in the current climate, as opposed to lawyers.

Jon Whittle, Market Development Director at NexiLexis Uk, said: “At a time when solicitors appear disillusioned with regulatory bodies, the findings raise real questions over the SRA’s relationship with smaller law firms and its strategy when it comes to reform. The SRA is there to ensure standards are maintained, but it needs to act in a way that does not alienate the firms with which it works. There is a pervasive concern that reforms could drive unfair levels of competition, compromise the rule of law, and lead to a race to the bottom, fundamentally damaging business reputation and bottom line.

“While everyone polled recognised that the regulator’s primary role is to support the interests of clients, few professionals in small and independent law firms see a compelling argument for these reforms and even less have considered what action they should take as a result. However, whilst the SRA has work to do, it is still, to some extent, the responsibility of small firms themselves to keep up-to-date with industry developments and reform.

“Having in place systems and processes to monitor upcoming changes and regulation, to help ensure there is adequate time to respond, is crucial. Responsibility sits on both sides – with solicitors and the regulator.”

55% of respondents believe that the reforms will make little difference, 40% see no need to change the current policies at all.

However, 44% view the reforms as a platform to provide lawyers with more career choices and 5% viewing the reforms as the necessary change that will drive change, make fairer competition, improve careers and offer clients more options.

When only 16% of respondents view the reforms as a positive opportunity, it is clear that small firms are struggling to view the future of the legal profession with any genuine optimism.

You can find the full report here.

Is your law firm prepared for regulatory change? Do you agree with any of the concerns raised in the report by small and independent law firms?

Martin Parrin

Martin is a Senior Content Writer for Today’s Conveyancer, Today’s Wills and Probate, Today’s Legal Cyber Risk and Today's Family Lawyer

Having qualified as a teacher, Martin previously worked as a Secondary English Teacher that responsible for Head of Communications.

After recently returning to the North West from Guernsey in the Channel Islands, Martin has left teaching to start a career in writing and pursue his lifelong passion with the written word.

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