The Law Society has announced a pilot scheme to provide firms with advice on problems with new compliance requirements.
A new compliance reference group (CRG) will deal with enquiries from compliance officers for legal practices (COLPs) and provide advice on major problems.
The CRG will initially be available only to top 100 firms, but the Society intends to extend the initiative to the wider profession. The group will comprise a panel of lawyers from top 100 firms who will provide advice that is supported and backed by the Society. If a firm acts on advice given by the CRG and then faces regulatory action, the Law Society will stand by the advice given by the panel.
The Society aims to launch the service on 2 May. It has sent out invitations calling for volunteer panel members, who will be selected on 24 April and notified the following day.
The news follows the announcement that the Solicitors Regulation Authority will open the process for firms to nominate COLPs and compliance officers for finance and administration (COFAs) on 31 May. The deadline for applications is 31 July.
Announcing the initiative, the Society's chief executive Desmond Hudson said: 'This is an entirely new type of service. It's the Law Society putting its money where its mouth is. If it works we plan to roll it out across all of our members and all firms and for COFAs as well,' he said.
Hudson added:'The Law Society has, and continues to provide, a suite of guidance and support to members on outcome-focused regulation and wider compliance issues through its flagship risk and compliance service, as well as practice notes, online training, diagnostic visits and more. The CRG adds to that support.'
For details about the Society's risk and compliance service see the website.