Compliance Officer in ABS Firms

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Long title: 
The Role of the Compliance Officer for Legal Practice in ABS entities
Author(s): 
Aulakh, Sundeep
Loughrey, Joan
Ford, Jacki
Author(s)' contact information: 
University of Leeds, UK
Conference title: 
International Legal Ethics Conference VI
Conference location: 
City University London
Country: 
UK
Year: 
2014

The Legal Services Act 2007 required ABS entities to appoint a lawyer to be responsible for taking reasonable steps to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements by a firm, its managers, employees or owners and to report regulatory breaches to the SRA. This requirement was subsequently extended to all law firms. Leveraging regulated entities’ internal resources to promote compliance with external regulatory goals is an established feature of new governance/meta-regulation techniques, but its use in the context of legal services raises interesting and novel questions. In particular, to what extent, if at all, is the approach of Compliance Officers for Legal Practice (COLPs) to their role influenced by the fact that they are lawyers subject to professional discipline? By the type of firm they practice in? By their approach to outcomes focused regulation? By their attitude to the regulator? Do they differ in approach from compliance officers in other contexts? If so, what broader hypotheses might be constructed from an ethical and regulatory perspective about the changing legal services market, and for regulatory strategies more generally? This paper examines these issues by reviewing the literature on compliance officers and on lawyers’ attitudes to law and compliance, and through qualitative interviews with COLPs in thirteen ABS entities. The ABS entities included both traditional law firms and new entrants which permits some comparison with the role of COLPs in both new and traditional firms.

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