SRA UpdateIssue 59 – December 2016Foreword from our Chief ExecutiveWelcome to the latest issue of SRA Update. In this edition, we are keen to get your views on our more detailed proposals for a single, independent assessment of would-be solicitors. Many of you contributed your thoughts on our earlier consultation and, as you will see, we have taken your responses on board. We also want to know what you think of our ideas around making more information available so that potential clients can choose legal services with confidence. You might remember from our last edition that we have increasing concerns about investment scams using law firms to give them a veneer of credibility. We provide an update on what has happened, and what we have done, since September. This continues to be a busy time for us all—I hope you can find time to catch up on some of these important issues. Paul Philip Investment schemesSolicitors must meet high professional standards set independently in the public interest, and the vast majority do so. Yet we have had increasing reports of solicitors involving themselves in dubious investment schemes. We have issued warnings on this matter on a regular basis over the years so that you—as well as the public, who may be at risk of losing considerable sums of money—are clear about the dangers. MoreBetter public informationWe want your views about what sort of information on legal services should be made available to help potential clients find the right provider. There is a huge amount of unmet need in the legal market, and this is an opportunity to both help consumers and help firms to access that market. We want your views on what is the best way to increase the provision of information which could help the public and small businesses. MoreSQEWe have launched our second consultation setting out more details of our proposed new single assessment for would-be solicitors—the SQE. It proposes that all new entrants to the profession would have to reach the same high standards and that these are independently assessed. We have responded to your views on our initial consultation, including committing to the need for a degree or equivalent, and a substantial period of workplace training. MoreInsurance dataWe have collated 10 years of data from insurers to build a picture of claims made against professional indemnity insurance policies. The information will be used to shape a consultation on financial client protection next year. MoreToutingWe have increasing concerns about 'touting' in criminal legal aid cases. Solicitors and their agents are banned from proactively approaching potential clients in person in a bid to increase business. If you have evidence that this is taking place, we would ask you to help us tackle this problem by letting us know. MoreYouth courtsWe have put together a support package for those of you working in the youth courts and helping young people. Working together with Just for Kids Law and the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers, the support package brings together expert insights and tips on best practice in meeting young people's needs. MoreContinuing competenceWe have now moved to the new approach to continuing competence. This replaces the old CPD 'hours' regime. From webinars to an online toolkit, we are here to help you ensure you track your training assessment through the year. MorePersonal injury surveyWe have published a survey looking at personal injury market views. Respondents think the market is adapting well to change, but there are still some areas of concern. We are now carrying out a more in-depth review to fully understand the nature, extent and impact of any concerns. MoreKeeping of the RollSome of you have asked about any potential Keeping of the Roll exercise. We stopped carrying this out as an annual event in 2015. It will take place again when we feel there is a need to capture the information, but that will not be until 2018 at the earliest. MoreGuidance surveyWe are committed to helping you understand and comply with any changes we make to our regulations. We want to know the topics and areas in which you would most like guidance from us. Complete our survey and tell us about your needs and preferences. Responses are anonymous and the closing date is 30 January 2017. MoreVirtually having your sayA vital part of our policy-making process is input for you in the profession on issues that matter to you. We have therefore created various 'virtual' reference groups, the members of which feed back their perspectives on proposals we are working on. There are five such groups now in operation providing useful viewpoints. MoreBogus firmsBogus firms continue to be a problem. We have seen cases of scammers pretending to be fictitious firms or stealing the identity of existing firms, and trading on the profession's reputation to gain the confidence of unsuspecting members of the public. MoreA question of ethicsOur Professional Ethics team offers help and advice when issues appear less than clear cut. In A question of ethics, we address some of the questions that the team is asked. The latest question concerns an urgent request to a local hospital for patient records in respect of ongoing matrimonial proceedings. MoreConsultation and discussionSQEWe have launched our latest consultation on a new single assessment for would-be solicitors—the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE). Currently, solicitors can qualify through a large number of providers and in a number of ways, yet there is no consistent benchmark. Under the proposed changes, anyone wishing to be a solicitor would have to undergo the same independently set, professional assessment before qualifying. The consultation ends on 9 January 2017. MoreRegulatory dataWe have launched a discussion paper on making regulatory data about firms available. This is part of the drive to help potential clients make informed choices about engaging the legal services they need. We have set out our views in the paper, and we welcome your feedback. MoreFree Manchester event for small firms We will be at the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce on 13 December to talk about our support for small firms. If you want useful, practical advice to help run your practice, or you want to know about the SRA's regulation changes and how they could affect you, please register now. 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