Are conveyancers ready for regulatory change?

Published by GlobalX

Monday Oct 14 2019 Company News

The legal sector has been tasked with adapting to myriad regulatory changes in 2019.

The threat of data breaches via information and financial loss created by ever increasing cyber criminality is forcing law firms to improve their security procedures and approaches.

Modern clients also expect a smooth and efficient service. Spurred on by the instant information offered via Google and smartphones, consumers are looking for answers and demand immediacy; regulators therefore expect law firms to improve their sophistication and speed of communication in order to cater to these changing demands.

How well is the conveyancing sector adapting to these changes?

Embracing Change or Remaining the Same?

In December, following a Competition Markets Authority (CMA) review in 2016, solicitors were tasked with ensuring their communication, prices and services were transparent.

Despite almost a year passing since the regulations were introduced, full compliance remains sporadic.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) reviewed 500 law firms in June. Only 25%, of the 447 firms with a functioning website, were fully compliant with regulatory changes. Almost a fifth (17% or 78) firms were failing to comply with any regulatory changes.

Whilst 58% of firms were partially compliant with price and service transparency, many were struggling with at least one of the regulatory imperatives. Over half (52%) of partially transparent firms had omitted information regarding complaints procedures; over a third (34%) had failed to fully disclose all costs, including the application of VAT and costs/disbursements, such as land registry searches and court fees commonly applied to a typical transaction.

According to the LexisNexis Bellwether Report ‘The Changing Face of Law’, 58% of solicitors and 69% of law firm leaders found the changing nature of consumerism to impact on the role of the legal service provider.

A quarter (26%) found that changing consumer expectations had driven prices down, inadvertently deteriorating the quality of service with a third (31%) concerned that price transparency is compromising their role.

Whilst the conveyancing sector has sometimes struggled to adapt, as we travel into the second half of 2019, consumers are benefiting from improved communication.

Secure Digital Presence and the Modern Law Firm

Improved SRA standards and updated Law Society regulations all recognise the importance of protecting a business’ digital presence. Failing to ensure the safety of a law firm could irrevocably damage the precious reputation and leave clients vulnerable to further attack.

The Conveyancing Quality Scheme’s updated Core Practice Management Standards (CPMS) and the new Lexcel standards insist upon the implementation of cyber certifications like the Government backed Cyber Essentials.

Whilst law firms are increasingly complying with basic cyber defences, many businesses are struggling to embrace cyber security changes.

According to the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2019, released by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, cyber security implementation has been piecemeal and fragmented.

The report highlights the distance UK businesses still need to travel in order to ensure they are fully protecting themselves from fraudsters. Only a third of UK businesses have embedded a clear cyber security policy. Similarly, only a quarter (26%) ensure their staff are trained to spot the warning signs of fraud.

When 80% have experienced phishing attacks last year, the importance to train and prevent successful email-based attacks should be a high priority for law firms.

With over £300 million being lost in 2018 through social engineering and authorised push payment fraud tactics, failing to embrace a healthy cyber security culture throughout the entire firm could be costly.

As consumers become increasingly demanding, it is important for your law firm to emphasise the immaculate and cyber safe service. GlobalX are proud to offer unrivalled conveyancing search services, including land registry, mining, local authority and due diligence searches.

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