Photograph by Stephen Punter – an enthusiastic supporter of law (and my tour) who has given me permission to publish his remarkable black and white photographs in my tour reports. Website Stephen Punter Photography – he is also on twitter @stephenpunter
The regulation of lawyers in this country is vital to the maintenance of honest and best practice. Solicitors are represented by The Law Society and regulated by The Solicitors Regulation Authority. Barristers are represented by The Bar Council and regulated by The Bar Standards Board. I plan to deal with the regulation of barristers in a separate lawcast later in the tour; similarly Charted Legal Executives, the third principal branch of the profession. The regulators are regulated by The Legal Services Board and dissatisfied clients can take their claims to The Legal Ombudsman. The profession is heavily – but not necessarily – well or fairly regulated.
Today I talk with Andrew Hopper QC about the regulatory framework for solicitors, the Code of Practice, the strengths and shortcomings of the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the need for legal education to be improved with good training for prospective lawyers in ethics – the morals and not simply the rules.
Listen to the podcast
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Andrew Hopper is a solicitor and Queen’s Counsel; still a rare combination. He was admitted a solicitor in 1972 and from 1988 has practised on his own account in a niche practice concerned with professional regulation and discipline, principally in relation to solicitors. He was appointed Silk in 2001, the fifth solicitor Silk to be appointed and the first outside the City of London. He is regarded by many as the foremost expert of his generation on the law and practice related to the regulation of solicitors.
- He has written, with Gregory Treverton-Jones QC, the Solicitor’s Handbook 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012, an intended annual publication proposed to be the natural successor to the Guide, but containing in one place all the professional rules to which solicitors are subject, as well as guidance about the regulatory system generally, written with the benefit of over thirty years experience of this area of law. With the same co-author he has written a guide to Outcomes-Focused Regulation as adopted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in October 2011. Unlike the Guide however the Handbook is written from the perspective of the practitioner, rather than that of the regulator.
- He is joint General Editor of Cordery on Legal Services, the principal authority on the law and practice affecting the regulation of the supply of legal services, including all aspects of the professional obligations and liabilities of solicitors and the other legal professions, and he is a consulting editor to the fifth edition of Halsbury’s Laws of England on the subject of solicitors
Legal Futures covered this podcast with a good analysis: Hopper puts the case against “overly aggressive” SRA