23% increase in solicitors over the last 10 years

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has published its annual reports on its operational work during 2019/20. The reports cover areas such as its regulatory role, preventing money laundering, and enforcement.

Key facts highlighted within these reports include:

  • 23% increase in the number of solicitors who hold a practicing certificate in the last decade
  • £10.4 million was paid out from the Compensation Fund, up £2.9 million from 2018/19, with the average payout around £28,000.
  • 21 money laundering-related matters resulting in an internal sanction while firms visit almost halved in 2019/20, from 140 to 75.
  • The continued growth of the legal sector in Wales, with Welsh firms now accounting for a combined turnover of over £435 million, up from £370 million five years ago.

The SRA’s Upholding Standards Report, which covers its enforcement work, includes a review of the diversity characteristics of solicitors involved in the SRA’s enforcement processes, alongside a supporting report setting out the detail.

Findings in this area for 2019/20 were in line with a similar analysis for 2018/19 published last December, and again shows an over representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic solicitors, and men, in both concerns raised with the SRA and investigated, when compared with the diversity of the profession as a whole.

The SRA has committed to commissioning independent research into the societal and structural factors that may be driving the overrepresentation in reports made to it, as well as reviewing its own decision making and working to improve diversity data collection

Anna Bradley, Chair of the SRA Board, said:

“Publishing this suite of annual reviews is an important part of our ongoing commitment to transparency and accountability. Last year was difficult for everyone, and I’m pleased that our reports show that both the SRA and the profession rose to the challenge, adapting to new ways of working, maintaining performance and services and showing real resilience in the face of the pandemic.”

“Since we published our last set of reviews, we have made significant progress in many areas, not least the work now well underway to understand and address what may lie behind the overrepresentation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic solicitors, and men, in our enforcement processes. Our 2019/20 Upholding Professional Standards report again confirms the historic trends we have already seen and reaffirms how important it is that we continue to push on with this work as quickly as possible.”

The SRA’s suite of annual reports cover five key areas:

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