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SRA to utilise in-house lawyers more extensively

Posted by: Laurence Simons 30/01/13

As a rule people don't like to be defined by their job, unless they work in a glamorous industry like spying or big data analysis; most of us like to stress that, as well as making a wage, we run an amazing club night on the side or spend our weekends potholing in south Wales.

And even for people who really enjoy their job, dealing with work-related issues in their personal life is still an onerous task. If you're a landscape gardener, you probably don't want to go home and mow the lawn into an amusing shape or trim your apple trees so they look like the Beatles.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has turned out to be the exception that proves the rule, however, by announcing that they will rely on their in-house lawyers more over the coming years and trimming the portfolio of law companies they use as part of their prosecutions panel.

Seven firms made it onto the SRA's new-look panel for advising on disciplinary proceedings and regulatory appeals, down from the 16 that were appointed following the organisation's previous review in 2009.

Bevan Brittan, Capsticks, David Barton Solicitor Advocate, Devonshires Solicitors, Jonathan Goodwin Solicitor Advocate, Morgan Cole and Penningtons Solicitors were named as the lucky winners earlier in the month.

These appointments became effective on January 1st and will continue to serve for three years - although this period can be extended by two years if everything appears to be going well.

A spokesperson for the SRA said that the slimmed-down panel was connected to the body's decision to handle more disciplinary work in-house, possibly because its members simply enjoy being a lawyer so much that they demanded the opportunity to do even more legal work.

The SRA regulates more than 120,000 solicitors across England and Wales, acting as a kind of shepherd to the industry - rescuing lawyers that have got stuck on rocky outcrops while looking for more grass to eat, marshalling legal professionals into attractive formations to win competitions, ensuring all solicitors have a warm barn to sleep in and so forth.

Established in January 2007, the SRA was previously called the Law Society Regulation Board but had to redevelop to take into account the changes that swept the profession following the Legal Services Act 2007.

Its policies are determined by a board of seven solicitors and eight laypeople, with Herbert Smith consultant Charles Plant the current chairman.