rblog

It's good to talk

By George Hawkins on 9 December 2014

We are always looking to improve our understanding of risk in the legal services market. This is partly achieved by analysing the issues that are reported to us. But It is only when listening to solicitors, firms and other stakeholders that a more complete picture emerges.

We recently organised a roundtable event for small firms, law centres and academics about the risks they prioritise and whether our Risk Outlook accurately reflects them. The participants had some interesting views, agreeing we are right to prioritise cybercrime and money laundering as many of them had faced challenges in those areas. However, they also raised a lack of consumer awareness when it came to choosing a legal service provider as a key risk.

The Risk Centre was also on hand at our recent compliance officer conference. Tim Livesley, Risk Analysis and Research Manager, presented a session on why managing risk is good for business. Delegates had the opportunity to share ideas and it was clear that many firms believe that competitive advantages can be gained from applying effective risk management to their business.

By participating in sessions like this, solicitors and firms have a direct input into our understanding of the market and help us distinguish the risks we need to prioritise, from those that rarely occur or have little impact on consumers, the proper administration of justice or the rule of law. By using this information we can decide how to manage risks, ensuring our regulation is targeted and proportionate.

For example, we saw a statistical increase in bogus firms coupled with information from firms explaining that they were increasingly subjected to attempted bogus activity. We therefore prioritise reports of bogus firms for investigation, issue Scam Alerts and recently published a paper In the shadows which covers the trends that we are seeing and collates information that will help firms to manage this risk.

We are organising more roundtable events to take place early next year, which will help inform us of any market changes that could be reflected in our Spring Update. For anyone interested in sharing their perspectives on risks in the market, please submit your name and email address in the box below. As I hope this article conveys, we appreciate your feedback.

George Hawkins is a Senior Technical Advisor at the Solicitors Regulation Authority.