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Risk and compliance body born out of missing OFR guidance

Legal Compliance Association creates a community with unprecedented networking and information-sharing possibilities

18 August 2014

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By Laura Clenshaw, Managing Editor, Solictors Journal (@L_Clenshaw)

A membership body for risk and compliance professionals has been launched following a resounding call for the Solicitors Regulation Authority to issue further guidance on outcomes-focused regulation (OFR) and resolve unanswered questions.

Legal Compliance Association (LCA), created by the company behind Managing Partner conferences and events, was founded after community manager Leah Darbyshire spent time listening to and understanding the industry's concerns.

"OFR may have been intended to liberate well-run firms from adherence to strict rules and enable better business decision making, however, it has actually left the majority of legal risk and compliance directors confused about what they need to report to the regulator and what they don't," said Darbyshire.

In the past 18 months, since the implementation of OFR, some 300 COLP, COFA, compliance directors and others responsible for risk and compliance have attended Managing Partner COLP COFA conferences, at which it was clear "there are almost as many different ways to respond to a potential breach scenario as there are law firm compliance directors".

Firm fears

Darbyshire said the lack of finer detail from the regulator on OFR, and fears from firms of committing a Christopher Grierson-type case, meant that legal businesses were taking a new approach to compliance learning.

LCA board member Rachel Khiara, partner at Khiara Law, said the organisation's ability to allow the risk and compliance community to share information is unprecedented, and that the body is a valuable tool for compliance officers and other support teams.

Angela Robertson, fellow board member, and partner and general counsel at Eversheds, said the organisation will be key to succession planning for the next generation of general counsel and heads of compliance.

"One of the major benefits I see is providing a network," she said. "There is a gap and our team members, who after all will be the future leaders in the risk arena, need to start those relationships now and see what challenges and issues are being faced by their colleagues in other law firms."

Law Society support

Pearl Moses, LCA board member and practice lead consultant in risk and compliance consultant for the Law Society, praised the group. "Over the past four years, I have seen Managing Partner distinguish itself in the support that it has given compliance-facing members of the profession. With this in mind, I am greatly encouraged by the opportunity to be a part of the LCA's launch."

Moses said she was confident that the association will provide an invaluable resource for busy practitioners.

The board also includes senior management from Berwin Leighton Paisner and Hinshaw & Culbertson.

Reputational gain

The LCA is open to anyone with an interest in legal compliance, whether they are working for a traditional law firm, alternative business structure or an in-house legal department. It will offer online networking, scenario-based discussions and resources, as well as quarterly face-to-face events, the first of which take place in September.

Keith Read, former group director of compliance and ethics at BT, will host the inaugural address on the desire among legal services businesses to learn from corporate ones on how to create a positive compliance culture, and communicate policies effectively with employees.

Darbyshire added that the UK's biggest firms were keen to use the LCA because of Managing Partner's strong track record in risk and compliance training.

"The majority of the top-100 are expected to sign up," she said. "Membership may be seen as evidence of a firm's willingness to comply, not just by the regulator but also in response to increasing demands, by their insurers and clients too."

For more information on the LCA and how to become a member, go to:

First published in sister publication Solicitors Journal.

The Legal Compliance Association is a division of Wilmington plc.  Managing Partner is published by ARK Group, a division of Wilmington plc.



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