Job Reference No: VAC-20556
A slightly unusual vacancy has arisen with a medium sized law firm who specialise in advice to the investment and financial services sector. They are in need of a COLP solicitor to cover maternity leave starting in June for 13-15 months.
The role is fully remote, flexible hours possible. Full time or part time considered, although the company have budgeted for full time. Law firm are based in London.
We have sent the role out to a fairly wide range of solicitors, simply because the firm do not mind what fields of law you specialise in. If you deal with regulatory or compliance law in your day to day work then this would be of particular interest to them, but it it specifically the COLP role they are interested in. I suspect this relates to their need to for someone to be keeping a close watch over everything in view of their clientele and type of work.
Who can be a COLP (Compliance Officer for Legal Practice)?
A COLP must be an individual who:
- is a lawyer of England or Wales; a registered European lawyer (REL) or European lawyer regulated by the Bar Standards Board
- is an employee or manager of the practice
- is approved by the SRA for that role (either expressly or by deemed approval – see 2.3 below
- has consented to undertake the role
- is authorised to do one or more of the reserved activities specified in the practice’s certificate of authorisation
- has not been disqualified from acting as a head of legal practice (HOLP) – as defined in the Legal Services Act 2007
- is of sufficient seniority and in a position of sufficient responsibility to fulfil the role
There is no definition as to what sufficiently senior or responsible might mean. However guidance indicates that COLPs should have:
clear reporting lines between themselves and the governing body of the practice, that is, the partners, members or directors
access to all management systems and arrangements and all other relevant information
If there’s no individual of sufficient seniority with detailed knowledge of compliance systems, the COLP may delegate some of the day-to-day functions (but not responsibility) to other members of staff. However, the COLP should monitor any work they delegate and maintain clear reporting lines with those carrying out day-to-day functions on their behalf.
2.3 (referred to above)
Nomination of COLPs and COFAs
All practices authorised by the SRA must appoint a COLP and COFA. The same individual may be appointed to carry out both roles. ABSs need to have individuals appointed to the roles of COLP and COFA when they are licensed by the SRA. Authorised bodies must apply to the SRA for COLPs and COFAs to be approved (Rule 14 SRA Authorisation Rules 2011).
(NB – this firm are an ABS, so you will need to be approved prior to taking up the post).
The role of the COLP
In essence, the role of the COLP is to:
- take all reasonable steps to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of their practice’s authorisation
- take all reasonable steps to ensure compliance with any statutory obligations for example, the duties imposed by the Legal Services Act 2007, the Solicitors Act 1974 and the Administration of Justice Act 1985
- take all reasonable steps to record failures to comply, in order to be able to recognise material failures that must be reported to the SRA
- report material failures to comply to the SRA as soon as reasonably practicable. Only ABSs are required to report non-material breaches as part of the Information Report required under Rule 8 of the Authorisation Rules