The Practical Lawyer


Freelance solicitors – beware pitfalls

Solicitors are no doubt aware that the SRA is introducing the new standards and regulations from 25 November 2019, which include separate codes of conduct for solicitors and firms. A controversial aspect of the new regime will allow solicitors to do non-reserved work for unauthorised businesses or as a freelancer (subject to some restrictions). The SRA takes the view that more liberal practising rules will enable the public to access legal services more easily. The choices available to solicitors include working as:
  • an SRA regulated solicitor within a non-regulated organisation;
  • an SRA freelance solicitor who can provide reserved services; or
  • an SRA regulated freelance solicitor who only offers non-regulated services. 
The Law Society has issued a practice note (11.09.19) for solicitors who propose working in a freelance capacity. While this will no doubt give some welcome flexibility to solicitors, the Law Society points out some of the pitfalls of this model of practice including the importance of ensuring that clients know:
  • that it is the firm holding their money and not the solicitor; 
  • who is doing their work; and
  • the regulatory status of their provider.
Freelancers carrying out unreserved work are advised to obtain insurance. Those carrying out reserved legal services must obtain ‘adequate and appropriate’ professional indemnity insurance cover.

Non-reserved activities include:
  • will writing;
  • most employment law; and
  • providing legal advice.
Reserved activities include:
  • exercising rights of audience;
  • conducting litigation;
  • preparing certain papers relating to probate and conveyancing;
  • acting as a notary; and
  • administering oaths.
The Law Society’s concern is that the public will not fully understand the different modes of practice. The current system has the benefit of simplicity and full protection for the client in the guise of the compensation fund. Clients will need to understand that this range of protection may not be available in the future. It reminds solicitors who want to become freelance that the practice note is ‘essential reading’. See


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