Friday, September 30, 2011

In Practice: Reality bites

Further to my previous In Practice posts, Solicitors Journal yesterday ran a piece about the SRA apologising to solicitors for technical problems they have experienced using mySRA. We are told that:
"According to SRA figures, there are currently around 122,300 solicitors with PCs, and up to 37,000 others likely to want to remain on the roll despite being non-practicing."
Leaving aside the Americanism 'practicing', I find it astonishing that there are, in 2011, some 37,000 solicitors who do not possess a computer. Where are these people? Probably living in caves somewhere, I suppose. Perhaps the SRA could contact them via smoke signals?

OK, I know 'PC' also stands for 'practising certificate' (spelt with an 's') - blame that little digression on my hatred love of initialisms. The article goes on to tell us that:
"Under the old system, hard copy application forms to remain on the roll were sent out in March. The fee for keeping a solicitor’s name on the roll for a year is £20, meaning that around £740,000 in income for the SRA is yet to be collected."
As I am no longer practising (with an 's'), all I want to do on 'mySRA' (not sure why it is mine - I never wanted it in the first place) is keep my name on the roll. I thought that once I had finally activated my account I would be able to do this (why else would I need an account?), but I don't seem to be able to do anything at all - all I seem to get is a lot of 'No records found'. Apparently, the SRA will be contacting me about keeping my name on the roll in the autumn. Meanwhile, solicitors wishing to renew their PCs (no, not their computers) "should visit the mySRA page in mid-October for the latest information".

Moving swiftly on, the SRA has also been busy advising high street firms "to be proactive and take advantage of opportunities presented by alternative business structures", according to this report in the Gazette on Wednesday. Samantha Barrass, the SRA's 'executive director of supervision, risks and standards' (sounds like an exciting job) told a meeting of the Conveyancing Association that: "There is a huge opportunity for high street firms and local estate agents so I would be surprised if they didn’t attempt to use these reforms to refocus their business and widen their service offerings." I agree that these could be hopeful times of opportunity for traditional high street firms, were it not for the small matter of the total collapse of the housing market, and therefore their staple income.

Lastly, and going back to a point mentioned in my first In Practice post, the Law Society has updated their practice note on Information on letterheads, emails and websites, which "explains the information that you must include in order to comply with the Code of Conduct 2011 requirements, and the steps that you should take to facilitate this". Yet more reading to do...

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