Family law firm compliance officers have a tough job ensuring they meet the statutory obligations and duties set out by the Legal Services Act and the Solicitors Regulation Authority; so your law firm doesn’t fall foul of the regulator or the LSA, you might consider enlisting some extra support for your COLP and COFA. While this kind of professional help incurs fees, it’s worth it.
There are two types of COLP and COFA support offered: the first is a consultation session which doubles up as a CPD training session; the second is ongoing support aimed exclusively at effectively handling COLP issues as they occur.
COLP and COFA consultation and CPD training
The consultation process is normally divided into three practical and focused sections which begins with a CPD accredited training course (killing two birds with one stone!), which explores the roles and duties of COLP and COFA. Individuals responsible for financial and practice compliance find it very useful to define and frame what their role is within the law firm and the wider legal implications.
This training leads naturally into a slightly longer planning session, where COLPs and COFAs can explore their roles more thoroughly. It can be highly effective at this point to separate their duties into manageable tasks and consider how these can best be achieved.
Finally, a specialist consultant will lead a discussion on what the requirements are for a compliance plan, risk register and practice area risk assessments. Again, these are explored and worked through to give compliance officers a fuller perspective and provide valuable examples and precedents to assist in their daily duties.
Following the initial consultation, legal practices can take advantage of on-going COLP support, which offers guidance, advice and support whenever it is required, over the telephone and via email. There is nothing quite like knowing, as a COLP, that you have a team of experts available to help whenever you need them.
The implications of non-compliance
Looking at the whole picture, CPD training and on-going COLP support is inexpensive, compared to the implications of non-compliance. For example, the Law Society Gazette reported in December that hundreds of law firms faced having their SRA authorisation revoked for seeking to appoint COLPs and COFAs who were not valid candidates or even failing to put candidates forward.