On 6 October 2011, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”) brings in a new approach for the regulation of solicitors known as Outcomes Focused Regulation (“OFR”). The emphasis will now be on achieving the right outcomes for clients.  OFR will mean less box ticking, and a more collaborative relationship with the regulator. Law firms (and in house legal departments) should have greater freedom to decide how to achieve the best results for their clients. The new professional conduct handbook (“the handbook”) is here.  In broad terms, evidence of compliance is vital under OFR.  There is also an increased emphasis on monitoring and audits. Law firms and in house legal departments must be seen to be proactive when dealing with regulatory issues. The handbook contains the following: the Principles; the SRA Code of Conduct (“the Code”); and other provisions, including the Accounts Rules and Authorisation and Practising Requirements. Underpinning the handbook are the 10 mandatory Principles - all solicitors (and staff employed in law firms) must:

Uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice;

Act with integrity;

Not allow your independence to be compromised;

Act in the best interests of each client;

Provide a proper standard of service to your client;

Behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services;

Comply with your legal and regulatory obligations and deal with your regulators and ombudsman in an open, timely and co-operative manner;

Run your business or carry out your role in the business effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles;

Run your business or carry out your role in the business in a way that encourages equality of opportunity and respect for diversity;

Protect client money and assets.