Dealing with freelance solicitors
Dealing with freelance solicitors

The following Practice Compliance practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Dealing with freelance solicitors
  • What is a freelance solicitor?
  • Difference between a freelance solicitor and sole practitioner
  • Freelance solicitor not providing reserved legal activities
  • Freelance solicitor providing reserved legal activities
  • Register of freelance solicitors
  • Professional obligations applying to freelance solicitors
  • The insurance position
  • Holding client money
  • SRA Compensation Fund
  • More...

The SRA Standards and Regulations 2019, in force from 25 November 2019, introduce a new method of practising: the freelance solicitor.

This Practice Note explains the regulatory status of freelance solicitors. It also explains the difference between a sole practitioner and a freelance solicitor. It sets out the restrictions on practice applying to freelance solicitors together with requirements around holding client money and indemnity insurance. It also provides guidance for law firms and in-house lawyers on the risks of dealing with a freelance solicitor on the other side of a transaction or matter.

What is a freelance solicitor?

‘Freelance solicitor’ is not a defined term in the SRA glossary. The SRA uses the term ‘freelance solicitor’ in a guidance note to describe a self-employed solicitor who is:

  1. practising on their own, and does not employ anyone else in connection with the services they provide

  2. practising in their own name (rather than under a trading name or through a service company)

  3. engaged directly by clients with fees payable directly to them

without that practice being authorised by the SRA.

Although not a defined term, freelance solicitors are a creation of the SRA Authorisation of Individuals Regulations, section 10.2.

Not all freelance solicitors are equal but to understand how and why this is so, you first need to know what constitutes reserved legal activities, ie:

  1. exercising a right of audience

  2. conducting litigation

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