What are the SRA’s requirements for supervising remote workers?

What are the SRA’s requirements for supervising remote workers?

This Q&A considers the requirements for solicitors and law firms regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) when supervising remote workers. It considers general supervision requirements in the SRA Codes of Conduct, the supervision of trainee solicitors and additional requirements for Lexcel-accredited firms.

SRA supervision requirements

The SRA’s core regulatory requirements in relation to supervision are found in the two Codes of Conduct (the SRA Code for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs and the SRA Code for Firms), which should be read in the context of the SRA Principles. Additional requirements relating to supervision are peppered throughout the SRA Standards and Regulations. The core requirements include:

SRA Code for FirmsSRA Code for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs
You remain accountable for compliance with the SRA’s regulatory arrangements where your work is carried out through others, including your managers and those you employ or contract with.
Para 2.3
Where you supervise or manage others providing legal services:
—you remain accountable for the work carried out through them, and
—you effectively supervise work being done for clients
Para 3.5
You ensure your managers and employees are competent to carry out their role, and keep their professional knowledge and skills, as well as understanding of their legal, ethical and regulatory obligations, up to date.
Para 4.3
You ensure the individuals you manage are competent to carry out their role, and keep their professional knowledge and skills, as well as understanding of their legal, ethical and regulatory obligations, up to date.
Para 3.6
You have an effective system for supervising clients’ matters.
Para 4.4
Not applicable

These requirements apply whether you are supervising work face-to-face or remotely.

See further:

• Practice Note: Supervision 2019—law firms

• Precedent: Supervision policy—law firms—2019

Supervising trainees

In Q&A published in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the SRA confirmed it is possible for trainees to work from home and there is no maximum amount of time a trainee can be supervised remotely, provided firms put in place sensible arrangements for supervisors to review trainees’ work remotely.

The SRA’s core requirements on supervision apply to all activities in your firm, including in relation to trainee solicitors. Alongside these, the SRA has specific additional requirements for the supervision of trainees.

Training contract starting before 24 November 2019Training contract starting on or after 25 November 2019
Training must be supervised by solicitors and other individuals who have the necessary skills and experience to provide effective supervision, to ensure the trainee has relevant learning and development opportunities and personal support to enable the trainee to meet the Practice Skills Standards.
SRA Training Regulations 2014, Qualification and Provider Regulations, reg 12.1
Training must:
—ensure the trainee has applied and developed the skills as set out in the Practice Skills Standards
—be appropriately supervised by solicitors and other individuals who have adequate legal knowledge and experience in the practice area they are supervising and the necessary skills to provide effective supervision
SRA Education, Training and Assessment Provider Regulations, reg 4.1(b)–(c)

Training must be supervised by solicitors and other individuals with the necessary skills and experience. On a day-to-day basis, trainees may be supervised by a number of different people, including partners, managers, solicitors or experienced legal executives. You should ensure supervisors have the necessary supervisory skills as well as legal knowledge and experience of their practice area.

Supervisors should:

• allocate work and tasks of an appropriate level, gradually increasing the level and complexity of the work over time, while encouraging the trainee to suggest solutions independently

• provide a balance between substantive and procedural tasks that, as a whole, demands the use of a broad range of skills

• provide clear instructions and ensure they have been understood

• offer advice and guidance on appropriate research methods and materials along with sufficient information and factual background about a case or matter

• set a realistic timescale for work to be completed and answer questions as they arise—both within a supportive environment that does not deter the trainee from asking questions in the future

• monitor the trainee’s workload to ensure they have a sufficient but not excessive amount of work

• help ensure the trainee maintains an up-to-date training record that identifies the work they have performed and the skills they have deployed

• review the training record regularly to ensure an appropriate balance of work and skills is struck

• give regular feedback to the trainee regarding their performance, recognising achievements and improvements, and constructively addressing areas that require further effort

• conduct or participate in formal appraisals of the trainee

• provide an environment that encourages the trainee to take responsibility for their own development

The SRA also requires regular review and appraisal of trainees’ performance and development:

Training contract starting before 24 November 2019Training contract starting on or after 25 November 2019
Training must include regular review and appraisal of the trainee’s performance and development in respect of the Practice Skills Standards and the Principles, and the trainee’s record of training.
SRA Training Regulations 2014, Qualification and Provider Regulations, reg 12.1(d)
Training must include regular appraisal of the trainee’s performance and development, and review of the trainee’s record of training.
SRA Education, Training and Assessment Provider Regulations, reg 4.1(d)

For more information, see:

• Practice Note: Supervision of trainees

• Precedent: Guidelines for the supervision of trainees

Issues to consider

When supervising remote workers, you will need to consider what you need to do to ensure your supervision is ‘effective’. This may involve employing different supervision practices to those you use for office-based supervision, which can be conducted face-to-face. Consider, for example:

• what methods of communication you will use to make contact with the people you are supervising

• how and when they can make contact with you

• what access staff have to learning and research resources if they are working remotely

• what systems you will put in place for reviewing work

• whether your systems allow for file audits or reviews to be carried out remotely

• how staff working remotely will keep their knowledge and skills up to date

• what arrangements you will put in place for appraisal and review meetings

Remote supervision of trainees is likely to pose greater challenges to ensure they are appropriately and effectively supervised and regularly appraised.

Additional requirements for Lexcel-accredited firms

The Lexcel Standard for legal practices imposes certain requirements in relation to supervision.

These should be considered compulsory for firms that have or are working towards Lexcel accreditation, they are not compulsory for other firms although they provide an indicator of good practice. Among other requirements, in order to comply with the Lexcel requirements in relation to supervision you must:

• have a named supervisor for each area of work you undertake

• have a procedure to ensure all personnel, both permanent and temporary, are actively supervised

For more information, see Practice Note: Supervision 2019—law firms—Additional Lexcel requirements.


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